Wawrinka high on 2013 performance

Chennai, Dec 27: World No.8 Stanislas Wawrinka, on his sixth consecutive trip to the Chennai Open and a singles winner here in 2011, hopes to build on his breakthrough season that saw him reach his career-best ranking.

As one of the top ten players in the world, Wawrinka had a terrific 2013, qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and giving a tough fight to leading players.

He reached the semifinals of the season finale in his debut and though he fell to winner Novak Djokovic, he finished the year on a high, compiling a career-best 51-23 match record on the season — including nine wins against top 10 players.

“If you look at my results at the Grand Slams in Melbourne, Paris and New York was definitely an outstanding year. My matches against Novak in Melbourne and New York were two of the most spectacular encounters in 2013,” said Wawrinka ahead of the Chennai Open beginning Monday.

“They showed me how close I am to the top guys and that I have my chances against them. I’m proud of how I played those matches and even if I lost I learnt a lot.”

The 28-year-old Swiss discusses each match with coach Magnus Norman, analyses it, and looks at the positives. The fact that the Lausanne native rejoices with achievements both big and small is something that sets him apart.

“It all comes step by step. You can always improve your game. I’ve been talking to Magnus this year and believe that this year my confidence has grown and I have played well in big matches.”

Wawrinka is evidently glad that he made it back into the top 10 and even more because he also reached his career best ranking of 8 this year. He won his fourth ATP title at the Portugal Open in May, his first since winning the Chennai Open in 2011.

Wawrinka considers Chennai to be among his favourite stops on tour. The 19th edition of the tournament will present an exceptional line up of top talent marked by the lowest ever cut off in the history of tournament.

Last year, Wawrinka partnered Frenchman Benoit Paire to lift the tournament’s 2013 doubles title in a match that lasted less than an hour.

Even though the players were very disappointed after losing the singles and had to make a big effort to win those doubles matches, Wawrinka cannot forget the support he received from spectators. Remembering the great time, he says: “Preparing for Chennai always has a relaxing feeling to it. I have great memories from 2011 and last year when I won the doubles title with my friend Benoit. I’m looking forward to being back.”

The World No.8 feels his breakthrough year has come at the right time. He refers to players such as Roger Federer, Tommy Haas and Radek Stepanek, over 30 years old and in their prime.

Looking ahead to 2014, Wawrinka said: “Rafa (Nadal), Novak and Andy (Murray) have all won at least one Grand Slam and played many finals, something that I’m still hoping to achieve one day. Top players are extremely tough to beat and you need to play your best tennis. I’ve already beaten Novak and Andy, so I know I can do it. Rafael has been the toughest opponent for me so far. However, if you work hard and keep fighting everything is possible.”