Did Stan Sacrifce His Full Potetial For Roger?

Roger_Federer_training_with_StanStan Wawrinka has always shown a hesitancy and slight discomfort to beat his “big brother” Roger Federer. When Wawrinka plays Federer you rarely see the full fury of “The Stanimal.” You don’t see the ferocity unleashed in the form of full-fledged fist pumps. You don’t see the alpha male points to his brain power when Stan plays Roger. You don’t see or hear the primal screams that Stan will express against other players especially Djokovic and Nadal. What you see of Wawrinka against Federer is like a tamed version not even close to full intensity. It almost seems Wawrinka is afraid to beat Federer so as not to offend “The God” of tennis or his global legion of supporters and worshipers. Wawrinka even hinted that such a mental dynamic exists in his runner-up speech yesterday after losing the BNP Paribas final to Federer in straight sets: “Everybody wants to see (Federer) win” and “I was your biggest fan when you played the Australian Open final.” It all makes one wonder: Just how many majors would or could have Wawrinka have won if he didn’t have to defer to Roger Federer for basically his entire career? Is it a consequence of a profoundly complicated tennis psychoanalysis that Wawrinka has “subconsciously tanked” his full potential at the altar of Roger Federer?

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  • Hartt · March 20, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    But if Stan wants to defer to Roger why did he beat him in Monte Carlo, one of I think 2 Masters that Fed has not won, so presumably one he would be especially keen to get?

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 20, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Hartt; Wawrinka has not subconsciously tanked every time but I feel he has a lot of the matches – Definitely not the one in the WTF SF (76 in the third) when mirka was heckling him calling him a “crybaby” from the front row – I mean Stan does not show the same effort level against Roger that he shows against Djokovic – If he did I think it’s quite possible he could be just about equal to Roger -

  • Andrew Miller · March 20, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Scoop, yes. On French Clay no, but elsewhere yes. He plays just a little less Stanimal and a little more Little Stan.

  • Hartt · March 20, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    But it’s not just against Fed that Stan has not been successful. Although it is true that his 3 Slam victories are very impressive, his record against No. 1 players in other matches is a woeful 0-20.

  • Andrew Miller · March 20, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Stan’s accomplishments in this era of fleeting big four have been miracles. But it’s true he plays doormat with Federer. I think there is some kind of big brother treatment

  • catherine bell · March 21, 2017 at 3:57 am

    Off topic –

    I think my Andy Warhol ‘quote’ re WTA rankings is about to come true :)

  • catherine bell · March 21, 2017 at 7:50 am

    Interesting interview with Agassi in the in which he mentions how disconnected Steffi Graf is from tennis nowadays, how it has nothing to do with her world.

    I can understand that, sounds very much Steffi’s way, so it seems very unlikely that she would get involved with any player from a coaching angle, or even giving advice. She certainly has no interest in whether players pass her records or not.

  • Hartt · March 21, 2017 at 8:23 am

    A couple interesting things came up in yesterday’s The Tennis Podcast. No wonder the women’s IW final did not get much press – apparently there were about 4 journalists at Vesnina’s press conference. It was on at the same time as the men’s final. The tournaments need to find a way to prevent that kind of scheduling.

    And they also talked about Denis Shapovalov winning the Drummondville Challenger. Now that Denis is in the top 200 he officially qualifies for the ATP’s “Next Gen” label. That sent me to the ATP’s Road to Milan rankings for the youngsters. Denis and Felix are the 2 youngest in the top 20 of that race, Denis at No. 14 and Felix at No. 19.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Hartt; ASAP sports has the transcripts for each player press conf so reporter could still get the quotes despite not being present at the Venina press conf – Love that NEXT GEN race to Milan story which I first learned about last year at US Open via Stefano Tsitsipas’ father -

  • catherine bell · March 21, 2017 at 8:50 am

    You can see an hysterical clip of Vesnina watching helplessly as her trophy is whipped away from under her nose in order to be presented to Roger :)

    Do they only have one trophy at IW ? Is that a slight hint that there should only be one – ie the men’s ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Catherine: I would be shocked if Graf does not watch The Majors – everybody who loves tennis watches those -

  • catherine bell · March 21, 2017 at 9:02 am

    I gather from what Andre said that it is entirely possible that Steffi doesn’t watch much tennis, or any at all. Maybe she doesn’t ‘love’ it anymore.

    Andre also commented how Steffi’s thinking, and how she lives her life, is ‘linear’ – she goes ahead and leaves the past.

    I imagine Steffi saw Kerber last year and hit with her mainly because Angie’s German, but I doubt she did any more serious coaching – a bit of moral support probably.

  • Chazz · March 21, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Some good potential 2nd round matchups at Miami:

    Sock vs. Nishioka (poor Jack, a rematch already?)
    Kyrgios vs. Dzumhur
    Fritz vs. Kohlschreiber
    Mischa Zverev vs. Edmund
    Harrison vs. Sousa
    Young vs. Pouille (rematch from IW)
    Nishikori vs. Kevin Anderson

  • Andrew Miller · March 21, 2017 at 9:12 am

    That’s garbage treatment for an Indian Wells champion. They could have missed the first set and covered a gem in the rough story. Again I think the comes down to fame, if you’re a foreign player you’re about as popular as my left eyebrow. Which is to say, not very. If it had been Coco or the mandatory USA player interview with say Sock it would have been gotta cover it. In the UK coverage favors the Brits and faux controversy outside of the Times columnists maybe Brits on this site can recount that better.

    That’s bad treatment. It’s a fame thing. Vesnina played sterling tennis against someone that USA readers should be familiar with in us open 2004 champ Kuznetsova and her Agassi-like shots and Chang like wheels.

    Sorry to say folks but it’s up to writer and journos that care to spotlight exceptional performances like Dan with Spadea and anyone for Vesnina. Bottom line, fame buys headlines at low prices and buries awesome performances. But tennis isn’t prime time and hasn’t been for decades.

  • Hartt · March 21, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Scoop, yes I know about the ASAP transcripts. I often read them once they are available online. In fact it is interesting to see how often a player’s remarks are taken out of context. But I thought that 4 reporters attending the press conference was indicative of the lack of interest although obviously the timing was most unfortunate.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Ok so we are supposed to believe during SF and F weekend of a major that Steffi is not watching it on tv but supposedly knitting or reading a book about quantum physics instead? Or cooking a schnitzel in the kitchen? Not buying it – I think Andre could be trying to re-craft “Stephanie”‘s image -

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I’m curious how this Russian takeover in Indian Wells will affect Russian tennis in the future? This final was another clue or reminder that the “Russians are coming” with Khachanov Rublev medvedev Zverev progressing nicely though the young Russian girls outside of Kasatkina are not really making any serious waves in the WTA yet -

  • Andrew Miller · March 21, 2017 at 10:05 am

    All that said: I think I said this before on public transit some guys asked me about my exhaustion one day and I said fellas just played some tennis, and I’d never have thought they knew anything about the sport. How wrong I was, they were fluent in the race among Nadal Federer and Djokovic and had their favorites, maybe from catching ESPN highlight reels. Nonetheless it shows that over time even sports fans with other favorite sports follow the drama of a good story. Vesnina is a good story and if she does it again all bets are off.

  • catherine bell · March 21, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Scoop –

    I really doubt Steffi spends any time watching tennis. I know it might seem extraordinary to many people but to me it rings true. Steffi survived a lot of setbacks on and off court, particularly in her early years, and survived those because she learned to put things behind her.

    Many ex-top players stay around the sport in some way but Steffi has chosen not to. She’s immersed in family, charities etc and that’s how she wants things to be.

  • catherine bell · March 21, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Hartt –

    The D Telegraph online has now got a spot where they discuss the winners and losers in tennis every couple of weeks – don’t know how long they’ll continue but it does mean some coverage – that’s where I picked up the Vesnina trophy clip although I imagine it’s all over the place.

    I’m afraid Vesnina will go out early in Miami – exhaustion most likely :)

    Doubles – Simona is probably avoiding doubles to save her knee and in case she has to play doubles in Fed Cup. I gather her knee is an ongoing concern which is not good news.

  • Matt Alic · March 21, 2017 at 11:42 am

    As we are discussing women’s game here
    Let me chip in about women’s final in IW 2017.

    Short version – it was better final than we usually get but not great final.

    But I’ve watched after post match interviews first and
    from those interviews (Vesnina especially) it was presented as this was great final.

    So I took a plunge and watched it.

    Vesnina is lovely and smart woman but
    I don’t think this was such a great final.

    I would call it very nervous, erratic final.

    Kudos to both for them to keep fighting till the end.
    Kudos to them for trying different shots.

    But there was 16 breaks of serves.
    16 breaks of serve in 35 games. :(

    So many breaks of serve, so many unforced errors of balls that
    should not had been unforced errors.
    Vesnina (winner of this match) had more unforced errors than winners.

    Both players played very nervous, it was hard to watch.
    They are not young players anymore.
    I was expecting more consistent play.

    You didn’t know who will win till the very end.
    That maybe exciting for some but
    reason was that their level of play was coming up and
    down every 3 games.

    That doesn’t bode well for them going forward.

    I believe Vesnina caught good serving/hitting streak being down 2:4 in third and
    having nothing to loose.

    Kuznetsova could not weather it.
    Kuznetsova was up twice – second and third set.
    For experienced player as her she should have taken the trophy and
    she knows it as was visible from her post match interview.

    Was it better women final as usual?
    Yes, it beats any other lopsided women’s final like Serena/Maria 6:2 6:0.

    But was it great match to watch – no.

    At this level of play players should have been more consistent if
    they are hoping to accomplish anything long term.

    Right now it looks like Vesnina/Kuznetsova will be Top 10 this year but
    I don’t think they can stay there for next couple of years unless
    they will resolve their mental/emotional issues.

    Men’s final – Stan has bad bad record against Top 4 players.
    And on top of that you are playing your friend.

    Once in a while he can put it together (Monte Carlo win, 3 Grandslams) but
    usually not.
    Being injured after Australian Open and be back in final so soon probably affected his game/confidence.
    He was playing badly in previous rounds but somehow survived (Nishioka – match points) and got to final.

    My bet on men’s final was that if Roger plays well or ok he is going to win.
    If Roger plays badly and Stan stays around for a long time, Stan will win.
    Unfortunately for Stan, Roger is right now red hot and happy.

  • Andrew Miller · March 21, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Ahhh those Russians, a mercurial lot. Zverev’s as Russian as Chang is Chinese, Sampras Greek, and Agassi Persian.

    You better hope Zverev the younger doesn’t take after past Russian champs! For the most part they aren’t too interesting in leading the tour with the exception of Siberia’s gift to tennis Sharpie. The fab four of Sharpie, Kuzzie, Myskina, and Dementieva was whittled down to Sharpie making Cannon shots and Kuzzie, however delightful she played, content with two well earnes slams.

    They have been fun, and Sharpie the true elite player among them, and for sure mixed up the tour.

    But I see no Russian superpower in tennis. The men tend to get lost in their fame or lack thereof, like Volkov, Cherkasov, and Chesnokov. I liked Kafelnikov a lot too, what a backhand. But dominant no sir. Or Safin, a head case of epic proportion whose potential exceeded his grasp. Loved his game too, fine effort back in 2005 in Australia.

    But look at it this way: Wawrinka, a non big four, eclipses Safin.

    Ain’t no Russian train coming.

  • catherine bell · March 21, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Agassi is of Armenian descent I believe. Not Iranian.

  • chris · March 21, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Please note headline should be “potential.”

    Re: Federer vs Wawrinka

    My daughter (pretty decent junior) and I have watched numerous Federer vs Wawrinka matches over the years. We have watched these matches carefully (perhaps even more carefully than the numerous experts out there.)

    What we see is that Federer knows exactly what type of ball Wawrinka is very uncomfortable hitting. Fed will rally Stan early in the match, playing a more or less “regular” style of play, deep cross courts, looking for short balls to attack. However, when the match gets toward the end of the set and Fed needs a break, he knows EXACTLY how to win points against Wawrinka. If you watch CAREFULLY you will see that he gives Stan a series of off pace, sliced and sort of garbage balls that land around the service line. Stan loves heavy deep topspin balls that he can crush. He doesn’t know what to do with these short, off pace, sometime sliced balls. He wants to be aggressive with them, but can’t generate enough pace, and can’t hit out like he very much prefers. He makes many errors off these balls and beats himself.The commentators noted that Stan kept changing racquets because he couldn’t get the right feel with his tension…it’s not that. It was a matter of Fed making him hit the balls he isn’t comfortable with/doesn’t know what to do with.

    In the match on Sunday, it was clear to me that Fed knew he would win easily; He could get points whenever he wanted using the approach outlined above. It was almost as if he kept Wawrinka on the court and allowed the score to appear close, and to give the fans almost 90 minutes of what they wanted “The Fed Show.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Matt Alic; Thank you for your analysis of the women’s final but I respectfully disagree in that the final was a lot of pressure on both finalists because both rarely play in such a high stakes situation – And this match was for over a million dollars – Both struggled with the pressure and obviously the other player’s game and neither could separate from the other although Kuznetsova was in position to make it a steamroll she just could not do it – These kinds of tension matches are intriguing to see who finally prevails in the end – Yes it was sloppy and error filled but this is to be expected when both players play so similarly and there is a lot on the line – Also adding to the drama was that both players are good friends – Of course the actual match was not unforgettable (though it was very good quality tennis) but what will be unforgettable about it was that we got to see a doubles standout finally win her first important singles tournament – Vesnina now will always be remembered as the veteran “who won Indian Wells” – Vesnina also showed a very endearing and likeable personality during and after the match and she surely gained a great deal of new fans from her champion performance -

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    I would not count out Vesnina – She very well could have gained the “Missing Link” which was the self belief that she could win big singles titles against the best players – The door is open now for a lot of players and Vesnina has stepped through that door – She can do it again too – and again and again and again – I like what I saw in how she played and how she handled it after – She could grow an appetite and hunger for a few more big singles trophies -

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Andrew; Sometimes I get surprised at how popular tennis is with old friends who I didn’t even know followed tennis – one old school chum texted me last year all about Andy murray and I had no idea he even watched any tennis – Another friend who has a law office in NJ told me that the copy of my Rios book (which he had on the table in his waiting room) was stolen – I was shocked that anyone outside of tennis would not only remember Rios but would want to steal a book about him at a law office – I guess he (or she) read a few pages while waiting and kind of liked the book :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Catherine; Did Andre shed any light on any of Steffi’s activities and interests? I seriously can’t see how any great champion like Graf would lose total interest in the sport – I can’t think of a single pro tennis player who has turned his or her back on the sport – I mean Karsten Braasch has a tennis school in Germany – Ken Flach owns a restaurant in California but he was at Indian Wells – Jeff Tarango is starting a tennis home school – Angelica Gavaldon is a tennis coach – Richey Reneberg is involved in investing but he is a regular attendee at the Citi Open in DC – Tim mayotte is doing some coaching and writing about tennis up in massachusetts and he’s thinking about writing a book about his life in tennis – I find it hard to believe Steffi does not turn on the Tennis Channel for a match or two just about every day -

  • Matt Alic · March 21, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Hi Scoop,

    it’s only my opinion, take is with grain of salt as I am just club doubles player.
    I’ve spent 4 hours of my life watching that final and interviews. :)

    One more thing that bug me.
    Vesnina is genuinely lovely lady but
    the sound that she produces during hitting is discomforting for spectators.

    Vesnina, nervous, yes, this is her biggest singles title late in her career.
    She is accomplished doubles players and has Olympic gold medal but
    last year she lost 1 round qualies in Indian Wells.
    So I understand her nerves.

    Kuznetsova (2 grand slam titles widely apart)
    should have no business being nervous in that match and
    handle it better.

  • Chazz · March 21, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Sorry to divert from topics (not sure where else to put it), but Donaldson beat Kozlov in the final round of qualifying 7-5, 6-3 today. Escobebo also won his final qualifying match. Opelka withdrew.

  • catherine bell · March 21, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Scoop –

    I think we have to believe Andre re Steffi, after all he is married to her. And Steffi herself has never shown any engagement with tennis today – she never comments on it, isn’t seen at tournaments, does no coaching etc (as I said Kerber’s contact was probably something sentimental on the German side )and very rarely gives interviews.

    It’s very likely that Steffi doesn’t watch tennis at all. Why should she ? Neither of her children play and perhaps some of Steffi’s own memories of her life in the game are less than rosy.
    Quite a lot of pro players probably leave the sport but of course we don’t hear about them. Going back a bit Margaret Court famously became an evangelical Christian preacher.

    Maybe when Steffi’s children are grown she may rekindle some interest – who knows ?

  • Andrew Miller · March 21, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Vesnina Kuznetsova was amazing to me. I gulped when I saw that let cord in set three and Vesnina steeling herself, how could she not think about how she lost the first set on a let cord as well? I need no convincing on either, they played a great tension filled match. I thought too that Kiznetsova sputtered in the third but did she? Didn’t Vesnina punish her for a little bit of sluggishness?

  • Hartt · March 21, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    The WTA site has an extensive interview with Vesnina. She said the final was shown on Russian TV (unexpectedly) and so her friends and family were able to see the match. She also talked about how playing doubles helped her singles game, in both tactics and building confidence. Once again she comes across as a delightful young woman. I hope she continues to have a good season in both singles and doubles.

  • catherine bell · March 21, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Kerber has the toughest draw in Miami. I see her nightmare continuing.

  • Chazz · March 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Does anyone know what has happened to Bencic? She reached #7 last year at 19 years old and now isn’t even in the top 100. She lost today in the 1st round.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Good question about Bencic – they say injury but she should be doing better now that she’s back and healthy – I guess she just needs a couple of big wins vs top players to get back on track – It looks like her court mobility is not sensationally good though she is a fine ball striker -

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Catherine; There is an old saying: The only truth is music” :) Andre is a pretty tricky clever guy as the anecdote about stealing opponents racquet specs shows :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    Nice analysis Andrew – I found it a captivating struggle also – you could sense both players really really wanted it and they gave it their very best – Not it was a Federer style masterpiece: It was a dig down deep dog fight cat fight (whatever is more politically correct) between a pair of tennis beauties both renowned for their class and sportsmanship and general niceness -

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Wow what a difference a year makes for Vesnina matt – Do you remember who she lost to last year in first round of IW qualies? Everybody gets nervous and like one wise tennis reporters once told me: “NLIS” which means No lead is safe :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 21, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Yeah that’s a tough loss for Kozlov as he just beat Donaldson a few weeks ago in straight sets – Opelka must have gotten hurt in his first match win – Looking forward to seeing the young Americans this week -

  • Andrew Miller · March 21, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Given Tennis Prose’ name as a website, some prose from tennis clips. These are the gems for me. I’ve quoted a few lines – keep in mind these are both long pieces so the below are rather small samples.

    From’s Steve Tignor, excerpt:
    ““We’ve never seen you hit backhands like that,” Tennis Channel commentator Mary Carillo told Federer after his blowout win over Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells.
    “Me neither,” Federer said with a laugh.
    (How great is that! I like Federer even acknowledged what Scoop observed in a past post, that Federer is not just hitting well for his age – he may be hitting some shots better than he ever has.

    From Jon Wertheim’s Sports Illustrated 40 thoughts published this week. These sentences really got me. I’ll just share a few.

    On Kyrgios’ recent strong play:
    “We’ve been saying for two years now that the best rivalry in tennis pits Kyrgios’ level of conviction against his talent level.”
    What a line! I feel like Wertheim must be smoking some of the good stuff to come up with that one, just a beaut to me of a phrase.

    On Djokovic
    “Djokovic’s drop-off since [the French Open triumph]—in results, yes, but also in spirit—has been dramatic.”
    SO TRUE.

    On Jack Sock:
    “There’s no doubt as to the identity of the best American male right now.”
    A statement of the obvious, but there’s no asterisk these days, Isner is nowhere to be found.

    On Nishioka:
    “Nishioka is a ton of fun to watch, by the way. He’s like Marcelo Rios with Kei Nishikori’s likable on-court disposition.”
    Maybe Wertheim borrowed from Scoop. But nice to see he sees the same things.

    On Pops:
    “You knocked off Andy Murray in round two—on Saturday night; in the big house—with a display that was equal parts power, athleticism and courage.”

  • Hartt · March 22, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Youngsters Alert: There are a lot of young guns playing today including: Donaldson v Edmund, Escobedo v Evans, Fritz v Pavlasek, Mmoh v Mahut, Veseley v Haas and Nishioka v Thompson.

    Hope that Scoop is able to give us first-hand accounts of some of these matches.

  • Chazz · March 22, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Hartt, some very good matchups. Donaldson in particular seems to be playing well lately, though Edmund will be very difficult for him to beat. In the live rankings, Donaldson (89), Tiafoe (93) and Escobedo (100) are all in the top 100 now. I was surprised to see Fratangelo (118) and Kozlov (119) ahead of Fritz (132).

  • Hartt · March 22, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    One youngster is gone. The experienced Mahut had no problem dispatching Mmoh, 6-3, 6-2. His skill in doubles was reflected in his net play where he had 23/30 points.

  • Andrew Miller · March 22, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Fritz simply hasn’t kept the pace since his Memphis outing last year. Outside a few commendable wins from the young man my sense is he isn’t sleeping these days. That said he has an endorsement from an oximeter company to measure his pulse. Maybe the guy really is nervous out there to need to know various physio stats. Or sweating bullets as his peers pass him by.
    Rest assured as Fritz understands his game abilities and opportunities better and gets a good dubs partner he could go all Mladenovic and Vesnina on the ATP tour.

  • Chazz · March 22, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Seems like Fritz is hot and cold. The win over Cilic was great and then he followed it up with a loss to Jaziri, which was really not a bad loss. He lost to Mannarino in Acapulco and to Young in Delray Beach.

    Wonder why Mmoh got a wildcard into Miami and didn’t have to go through qualies.

  • Chazz · March 22, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Harrison is up next in Miami vs. Fognini. Hope he doesn’t smash too many racquets. Or if he does, maybe he finds a new unique way to do it.

  • Chazz · March 22, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    I watched the Harrison match. That was a really uninspired effort from him. He did not play well and looked lethargic in the loss.

  • Hartt · March 22, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    I only saw part of the Fognini v Harrison match but the commies said Harrison was having problems with his back so maybe that played a role.

  • Chazz · March 22, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Oh, I didn’t hear that. That makes sense. Now Donald Young is having a trainer help with his back problems in between the 2nd and 3rd sets against Dustin Brown.

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