Stan Wawrinka has replaced Roger Federer as Swiss No 1, has gone further than his fellow countryman in two of the last three Grand Slam tournaments and beat him in the final in Monte Carlo earlier this year to claim his first Masters Series title. Wednesday brings Wawrinka the ultimate chance of one-upmanship as he faces the seven-times champion here in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
“When you play Roger at Wimbledon, when he’s fit and confident and feeling well, it’s one of the biggest challenges in tennis,” Wawrinka said after his fourth-round victory over Feliciano Lopez. “It’s like playing Rafa [Nadal] in the French Open.”
Wawrinka had spent his whole career in the shadow of Federer until he won this year’s Australian Open to secure his maiden Grand Slam title. The win took him above Federer in the rankings for the first time – Wawrinka is now world No 3 while Federer is No 4 – and three months later he passed another significant milestone. Wawrinka lost 13 of his first 14 matches against Federer, but in their 15th meeting he won in three sets to claim the Monte Carlo title.
“It’s going to give me a lot of confidence about myself, knowing that I can beat him, doesn’t matter where, on a big stage,” Wawrinka said. “But tomorrow it’s going to be a different experience: first time on grass, first time at Wimbledon, five-set match. It’s going to be tough.
“We have practised many times on grass. I know that I’m playing my best level. It’s going to depend a little bit on me, the way I’m going to play... I know that if I can play a good match, I’m going to have a chance.”
Federer said he had been happy to see his friend’s progress: “I think the dynamic has changed a lot for him – showing up for the big moments and believing he can come through them, because he did lose a lot of close matches against many of the top guys.”
Wawrinka, who has been critical of Wimbledon’s scheduling, will be playing for the third day in succession. He was grateful to win in straight sets, beating Lopez 7-6, 7-6, 6-3.
Milos Raonic celebrated Canada Day by becoming the first Canadian man to reach the quarter-finals for 102 years when he beat Japan’s Kei Nishikori 4-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-3. Raonic now faces Rafael Nadal’s conqueror, the Australian Nick Kyrgios.