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Saturday, 1 July 2017 15:05 PM BST
Modest Wawrinka ready for tilt at history
Stan Wawrinka targets Wimbledon triumph to complete Grand Slam set READ MORE

Stan Wawrinka has never been interested in seeing his name in lights.

Even as the Swiss stands within reach of achieving one of the most difficult feats in sport, he is quick to shrug off any suggestion of greatness.

Three times he has triumphed on the Grand Slam stage – once each in Melbourne, Paris and New York.

A maiden Wimbledon crown would elevate him past the likes of Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, Ivan Lendl and Andy Murray, and alongside his contemporaries Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as just the eighth man to secure the career Grand Slam.

“The player who did that, it's something amazing,” Wawrinka said. “But for me it's not something I think about it.”

Twice he has reached the quarter-finals at the All England Club, in 2014 and 2015. His greatest memory of Wimbledon – maybe not so surprising, given his self-effacing demeanour – is not immediately drawn from his own matches.

“For sure was some amazing final I watched when Roger won here,” Wawrinka said, before almost apologetically digging into the vault to think of a playing memory of his own.

“About myself, I think there were a few. Had some good matches. The second year I think I beat [Ivo] Karlovic on a small court 11-9. Was for me at that time [an] amazing result.”

Grass, traditionally, has not been as conducive to the 32-year-old’s game. The faster courts rob him of time to crank up his thunderous groundstrokes.


We always try to find things that I can improve and change in my game

- Stan Wawrinka

Last year, he fell victim to a resurgent Juan Martin del Potro in the second round. This year he opens his campaign against the dangerous Russian, Daniil Medvedev, a semi-finalist this week in Eastbourne.

The Swiss played just one warm-up match, at Queen’s, falling to the eventual champion, Feliciano Lopez in the opening round.

No cause for panic, though, given his ability to raise his level in the Grand Slams. Not that he lacks motivation outside the big stages, however.

“[The] best feeling in tennis is to win the trophy,” Wawrinka said. “Doesn't matter which tournaments you play, you always look and try for that.

“So far, in general, I'm really happy with the last four years. I think I've been playing amazing tennis, so let's see what's going to happen.”

While shunning talk of it, Wawrinka takes his tilt at greatness seriously. He hired Paul Annacone, a former coach of both Federer and Sampras, for the grass-court season to bolster his bid to win the last missing major. “I think it's great to have Paul with us, with Magnus [Norman] here,” he said.

He remained coy on what exactly the American super coach would bring to his game. “For me, it's more about my game in general,” he said. “We always try to find things that I can improve and change in my game.”

Wawrinka may not allow his thoughts to dwell too long on a potential career Grand Slam with the job at hand. But should the Annacone experiment pay off there will be plenty of time for that afterwards.

He may need to reassess his greatest Wimbledon memory, too.

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