Chennai Open: Wawrinka expects tough matches

Chennai, Dec 30: Being a hardcore tennis professional that he is, top seed and title favourite Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland declined to look beyond his first match while admitting that the draw for the Aircel Chennai Open is tougher than it looks despite the absence of defending champion Janko Tipsarevic.

At a media interaction here Monday even as the Chennai Open commenced, World No.8 Wawrinka pointed out that it being the first tournament of the season, the opening match was crucial to get back into groove after the off-season.

“I know that if I play well, I can do well here, but it’s the first tournament of the year, so you don’t really know what’s going to happen.

“The first two rounds are going to be really important. For sure I know I can win the tournament, but it’s not easy at all. We have some really tough games in the draw. so I will try to take it match after match and see where I can go,” said the 28-year old Swiss player.

On his return to the Chennai Open, Wawrinka said the city provided a good stopover en route to Australia and to prepare for the tournament, he practiced for three days in Abu Dhabi prior to arriving here.

“I love to come to Chennai, nice place to start the year. You cut a little bit of the travel from Europe to Australia. This tournament is a good combination, not too hot, it’s humid.

“It’s a really early in the season to start a tournament, but that’s how the schedule is made. I practiced here Sunday for the first time. I was in Abu Dhabi for three days before coming here, so I’m ok. I hope to play some doubles before my singles matches and I’m excited to start 2014,” said Wawrinka, winner here in 2011.

Wawrinka has joined the bandwagon of top players hiring their peers as coaches by appointing Magnus Norman, while following the footsteps of Roger Federer who has Stefan Edberg in his team while Andy Murray took on Ivan Lendl while Boris Becker joined forces with Novak Djokovic.

“It’s good for tennis to get players like Edberg, Becker and others to get back on the tour. May be it’s the right moment for them. It’s going to be interesting to see a good player and coach combination on the court. It has worked well for Murray.

“I’m really happy with my coach. They know how to get there (Grand Slams), they know how it feels and how to help the player,” he said.

Reviewing the 2013 season that saw him break into top 10 in rankings, Wawrinka expressed satisfaction at the improvement in his game and especially his confidence level.

“It’s been a really good year. I think, it is the self confidence that I can beat a top player and I did it few times, some good wins against (Wilfried) Tsonga, (Tomas) Berdych. I did it few times against Murray in the US Open.

“May be that’s what’s the main thing for me. For sure, I improved my game, my fitness. That was the main thing for me. It starts with the confidence, and then for sure, with the game. I was more aggressive against a top guy. It’s the few little things that make a big change for me, especially in tennis. That’s why my year was so good,” Wawrinka said.

Looking ahead to the 2014 season, Wawrinka has not set sights on the obvious goal of getting into top four, but asserted that he would rather practice more to improve his game.

“My goal is not to break into the top 4. I’m No.8 now. First time I finished in the top 10. I know that I can still improve, but I don’t know where I can go.

“The only thing I can control is how I practice, how I get ready for the tournament, and how I do my schedule. That’s it. I will try to do my best, but I have no idea what’s going to happen,” Wawrinka said.