The Wawrinka Wimbledon Dream
One of the more surprising players to grace the current “Golden Era” of men’s singles tennis is Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss number one has spent so long playing second-fiddle to the Big Four—as have the rest of the men’s tour—that it was a bit of a shock when he took the 2014 Australian Open. It was still surprising when he followed that up with the 2015 French Open. Maybe the 2016 US Open shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it still felt like one. Now Stan is one Slam away from a “Career Slam”. Let’s look at the chances of the Wawrinka Wimbledon dream coming true.
The Wawrinka Wimbledon Dream
The “Career Slam” club is an exclusive one. Only eight players have achieved it on the men’s singles tour, and only four of those in the Open Era. It might not surprise you to learn that, of the four Open Era “Career Slam” winners, three of them are Big Four players. Andy Murray being the only one yet to join the party.
If Wawrinka were to capture the Wimbledon trophy before retirement beckons, he will join this exclusive club. A club that boasts names such as Agassi, Emerson, and Perry. He may well be the next player to do it. Murray could feasibly beat him to it if the Scot can capture the Australian and French Open in 2017, but it seems like a tall order. The current Wimbledon champion has only reached the French Open final once, and has fallen at the final hurdle of the Australian Open a record five times.
The stage definitely looks set for the Wawrinka Wimbledon dream to come true. But will it?
When you look at Andy Murray’s rise to the Wimbledon trophy, there’s a consistent pattern. A third round, a fourth round, a quarter final, a few semi finals, a final, and then a trophy. By contrast, Wawrinka’s best showing at the All England Club is a couple of quarter final appearances. He has reached the fourth round a couple of times but, on the whole, the Swiss tends not to make it past the second or third round.
That doesn’t bode well for the Wawrinka Wimbledon dream, does it?
But fear not, Wawrinka fans (Wawrinkites?), form is on your side. Prior to the 2014 Australian Open and the 2015 French Open, Wawrinka’s best showing at both tournaments had been a quarter final berth. He had reached a couple of US Open semi finals before capturing that particular crown, but it seems Wawrinka is not beholden to the gradual progression that Murray is. If he we went straight from a quarter final best to winning Wimbledon, it would not be out of the ordinary for this multi-Slam champ.
Swiss-on-Swiss crime—Stan Wawrinka battles compatriot, Roger Federer, at the 2014 Wimbledon Championships.
Win/Loss by Surface
It wouldn’t be a tennis analysis without some raw stats. Let’s get into some win/loss percentages on different surfaces.
Wawrinka on Grass
Presently, Wawrinka is just shy of a 53% winning record on grass in his career. He has played a total of 51 games on grass and won 27 of them. It’s not a shameful record; he’s beaten more players on grass than have beaten him.
To put this record into perspective, however, we’ll compare it two of the best grass court players of all time. Seven time Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer, has an 86.74% win record on grass. That’s 157 wins out of 181 matches. Pretty impressive, no? Likewise, Pete Sampras retired with a record of 84.75%, winning 100 of the 118 matches he played on the grass. Clearly Wawinka is a little short here, but these guys are grass court legends. Let’s lower the bar a little. Andy Murray, two time Wimbledon champion, is younger and has been pro for a shorter time. His record is… 80.29%.
Murray has actually played more matches on grass than Sampras, though. Possibly owed to his record breaking success at the Queens tournament, which he has won more than any other player. If we turn our stat spotlight on former Wimbledon champions with a lower percentage on the grass, we can get a more reasonable number. Andre Agassi and Goran Ivanisevic are both in the mid 70s. This doesn’t look good.
Of course, this isn’t the be-all-and-end-all factor. Andy Roddick retired with a 79.82% winning record on grass, and Tim Henman a 70.43% record—neither of them ever won the tournament.
Wawrinka on Other Surfaces
Stan Wawrinka has won a Grand Slam on both of the other available surfaces; hard and clay court. He beat the odds to do it each time, so what does his record on those surfaces look like. We’ll start with clay.
Wawrinka won the French Open in 2015, and currently has a 69.71% winning record from 340 games on the surface. Clearly a much preferred court for the Swiss. The obvious player to start with in this comparison is the King of Clay himself, Rafael Nadal. Obviously Wawrinka is nowhere near (who is?) Nadal’s 90% winning record from 441 games. He’s much closer to 2009 French Open champion, Federer, however, who has a record of 75.52%.
Hard courts are a different prospect of course, with their being two Slams up for grabs on this surface. Wawrinka having won both. His record on hard courts currently sits at 65.66%. The stiffest competition from active hard court Slam winners comes from Novak Djokovic, with a hard court winning percentage of 85.98%. No doubt winning a record five Australian Opens helps in that regard. Federer is sitting pretty at 81.88%, while both Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are a little over 78%.
It’s the Andy Murray stat that’s telling here. His hard court percentage has likely benefited from reaching the Australian Open five times. He’s yet to win it, however. Wawrinka has won the Australian Open.
What’s it All Mean?
The biggest takeaway from these stats is that, in general, Wawrinka tends to win fewer games by percentage across the board on all surfaces than his successful contemporaries. Despite that fact, he still won three Grand Slams. Wawrinka will, as always, be against the odds going into Wimbledon, but what else is new? The Wawrinka Wimbledon dream is far from dead just because the Swiss has a sub par record on the green.
It would be a bit of a cop out if I didn’t at least make a prediction, so here goes.
Personally, I don’t think it will happen. In 2017 especially the competition will be fierce. Murray will be looking to cement his place at the top and defend his Wimbledon crown. Djokovic will be looking to regain the top spot. Federer will likely be aware that if he has another Slam in him, it will be at the All England Club. And, of course, there is the looming shadow of Milos Raonic, who reached two grass court finals in 2016. Including Wimbledon.
I think it’s too much of an ask for the ageing Swiss who has had a less than stellar time on grass.
But then again, who, at the start of 2014, would have predicted Stan the Man would become a three time Grand Slam champion?