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Losing to Djokovic made me mentally tougher: Wawrinka

For most part of his tennis journey this far, ever since he turned Pro back in 2002, Stanislas Wawrinka has played the eternal bridesmaid to his more illustrious compatriot Roger Federer.

Stanislas Wawrinka
Switzerland ‘s Stanislas Wawrinka celebrates a point against Spain’s David Ferrer during the ATP World Tour Finals in London last month. Pic/Getty Images

However, the Swiss No 2, who possesses one of the most effective single-handed backhands on the Tour, has stepped into the forefront this year having achieved a career-high ranking of World No 8 besides making it to the quarter-finals of the French Open and semi-finals of the US Open for the first time.

The 28-year-old is now eyeing a perfect start to 2014 with a win at the Aircel Chennai Open (December 30 to January 5). In an interview with MiD DAY, top seed Wawrinka says he’s keen to repeat his 2011 title-winning performance here. Given his top form this year, it looks unlikely that anyone can stop him.

Excerpts

On being the world’s eighth-best player…
I always knew that I could be back in the Top 10. All the players in the Top 20 are so close to each other. It’s so tough to get ahead. I’m glad to have reached my career best ranking of No 8.

On changes to his game in 2013…
No major changes. I have just worked a lot more and made a few improvements here and there, but nothing dramatic. I gained a lot of confidence from my great performance at the Australia Open (fourth round) even if I finally lost that match to Novak Djokovic. Then, winning Oeiras (Portugal Open) a huge confidence booster. Then the semi-final in New York (US Open) what a big success and I’m happy that I made my first appearance in a Grand Slam last four.

On the defeats to Djokovic at the Australian Open and US Open…
I was very disappointed after losing both these matches (both marathon five-setters — first in Round 4 of the Australian Open and then in the semi-finals of the US Open), especially during the first few days after the match. But then you discuss these things with your coach, analyse them and see the positive side of it. These defeats made me a lot stronger
mentally.

On being a favourite at this 2014 Chennai Open…
Chennai has always been one my favourite stops on the Tour. I enjoy being here and the atmosphere on court is electric. I have great memories from 2011 and also last year, when I won (doubles title) with my friend Benoit Paire.

On his Grand Slam plans for 2014…
I’ve been discussing a lot with my coach Magnus Norman and this year my confidence has grown as I performed very well against Top 10 opponents. Now, (in 2014) I want do well and make it to another Grand Slam quarter-final or semi-final.
 

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