Wawrinka: 'We Didn't Know If I Was Going To Be Able To Play Again'

2014 Monte-Carlo champion reflects on injury, comeback and the future

Stan Wawrinka has reached some of the highest highs in tennis, ascending to No. 3 in the ATP Rankings, winning three Grand Slam titles, and an ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the 2014 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. But two left knee surgeries in August 2017 sent the Swiss star as low as 263rd in the world last year, and he’s been battling to find his best form ever since.

“When I had the surgery, we didn't know if I was going to be able to play again because it was a tough surgery,” Wawrinka said. “But now it’s been a long time, I worked really hard to be back where I am. Right now, I’m really happy since the beginning of the year the way I’m playing. I’m happy to be back on the clay.”

Monte-Carlo has long been a special place for Wawrinka, and not just because it’s where he resides. Five years ago, he defeated three Top 10 opponents at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, finishing his run with a thrilling 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 against Roger Federer to lift the trophy.

“That was special, my only Masters 1000 [title],” Wawrinka said. “To play the final here, one of my favourite tournaments during the year, amazing atmosphere to play here, [it was] a special day against Roger. I remember we warmed up together before the final. It was something really, really special that year to win it here.”

Perhaps those happy memories will serve Wawrinka well this week. Clay is the 34-year-old’s most successful surface, having won more than 67 per cent (176-86) of his matches on the red dirt.

“I always feel good and comfortable to come back on this surface. I think the sliding helps my game to play my powerful game. I’ve been feeling great on the court physically, tennis-wise also,” Wawrinka said. “I’ve had some good results [during my comeback], also some tough losses that could have changed a lot in my [ATP] Ranking. But I’m really patient with that and I’m always looking in the present.”

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The Swiss, World No. 36, is at his highest ATP Ranking since last May. And with only 65 points to defend through Roland Garros, he will be looking to take advantage. His win against Frenchman Lucas Pouille on Monday was worth 45 points.

But this is not about one match. Wawrinka feels that the number next to his name is not the key. The Swiss knows his level is back near where it once was, and that on any day, he can compete with the best players in the world.

“I feel good on the court. I feel that I can beat a lot of players here so we will see,” Wawrinka said. “We will see how it’s going to go the next few months but I’m convinced that if I keep pushing myself, keep doing the right things, keep playing at that level I’m going to have a chance to do some big results.”