Should Stan skip Wimbledon?

Stan Wawrinka is down to play at Queens Club and Wimbledon during the grass court season which begins post Roland Garros but after a first round exit in the French capital should he skip grass and beginning training on hard courts?

For me it would make total sense for Stan to skip the grass court season. He’s never done too well on grass and picked up this injury last year at Queens and was an early exit at Wimbledon as well against Daniil Medvedev so the ranking won’t take a bigger hit than it already has as with his round one exit at Roland Garros and being a finalist last year he’s lost 1200 points and has fallen out of the worlds top 250.

It will be an interesting few months to see what Stan does, the logical thing in my opinion would be to think about New York and get some wildcards in for tournaments which is what he will need now as he cannot use his protected ranking anymore and will have to rely on wildcards.

Stan is down to play Queens but I think it will be touch and go until very close to the tournament.

Watching Stan play against Garcia-Lopez in his loss at Roland Garros he did hit the ball well at times producing some great groundstrokes but his fitness wasn’t there and of course big concern over the knee.

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We will have to see what happens but having a medical time out during the first set for an injury that has kept you from playing your best tennis for almost a year is a big problem!

The grass won’t help with Stan finding comfort as we saw last year and if he wants to try and be fit for New York and give that ranking a big improvement before the end of the year it does seem like the best option.

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La Undecima in Paris?

It all comes down to a fortnight in Paris…

A year ago saw Rafael Nadal clinch La Decima as he picked up his 10th Roland Garros title and now all eyes turn to No.11

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Over the last 6 weeks or so we have learnt a lot on the clay courts across Europe.

Rafael Nadal’s blip in Madrid against Dominic Thiem raised questions over the Spaniard’s performance but also raised expectations on Dominic Thiem who is off to Lyon surprisingly this week.

During this period we have seen the improvements of Nishikori and Djokovic with the latter looking the sharper where as I think Kei needs more time.

Time is the key and for Stan Wawrinka I don’t think this will be his time. A first round exit in Rome and a week in Geneva have come a little too late for the former champion.

The challenge is Nadal over 5 sets. These last few weeks he has had players come close to him but over a best of 5 sets is a totally different challenge.

Djokovic and Fognini did well in Rome but over 5?

That is the challenge. I’ve narrowed it down to two players. Dominic Thiem (who beat Rafa in Madrid) and Alex Zverev. Thiem knows what he needs to do against Rafa on clay but five sets provides a big challenge!

Zverev has the most tour wins this season and his form of late has been exceptional! He slides around and covers the court well playing attacking tennis from behind the baseline, opening up the court with his forehand and going for shots with the backhand.

There will be challenges but will there be a consistent challenge over 5 sets? I don’t see it, I see this happening again!

Foro Italico thoughts ahead of Roland Garros

The final big warm up before Roland Garros sees the top players from the world head to the Foro Italico in Rome to finish off their preparations and aim to reign supreme in one of the worlds most beautiful cities.

I have been a bit quiet on everything this week as I have been in Barcelona for the week hence why I am doing a round up of findings from the week but there will be a number of exciting pieces coming out ahead of what is set to be an exciting Roland Garros but Rome first!

Why Stan?

When I heard Wawrinka was in Rome I was surprised, he lost in straight sets to Steve Johnson and it would be unfair to even look at the performance but I thought he would go straight to Geneva to practice and defend his title there? It’s good to see Stan back and it will take a while to get rhythm which could take a few months especially with three surface changes over the next 7 weeks so finding comfort on the knee is priority.

Sharapova’s best form since returning

100%! The former world number one has found some of her best tennis in Rome. The slow court has allowed her time on the ball something she hasn’t been getting over the last few weeks on clay.

Courts at Roland Garros can be similar but it does depend on conditions and watering which we have seen before. I think it’s good for Sharapova in this form but honestly I don’t see her contending for the title. The FFT denied Sharapova a wildcard last year so I don’t think they will be rushing to put her on Chatrier or Longlen.

Dom heading to Paris? Nope…

After what has been a good clay court season for Dominic Thiem the Austrian suffered an early exit in Rome so you’d have thought he would head to Paris to begin preparing but is instead going to play in Lyon at a 250 event and I don’t know why.

He isn’t short of match practice just a bad defeat and his performances in Monte Carlo and Madrid so soon after injury were very good so I hope going to Lyon doesn’t burn him out.

Worried for Woz?

Caro’s form has been consistent in the way that in all of her clay court tournaments she has won two matches and lost the third but when she has lost it is a thrashing.

Caro surprisingly has never found consistency on clay despite her game being well suited. Roland Garros is statistically her worst major with a win percentage of 64% but was her best performance last year making the quarter finals.

Caro does have points to defend and as second seed she should definitely be in the second week but has struggled against big hitters these last few weeks like Kasatkina and Bertens.

Kei good but good enough?

Kei Nishikori has also played one of his best tournaments of the year. Finalist in Monte-Carlo and quarter finalist in Rome he has come into form however that form dramatically dropped against Djokovic which is a concern!

Can he do it over 5 sets? I don’t think right now he is up to it physically. It is good to see him playing some stunning tennis but after set one it became a fatigued performance and he was a passenger which is a concern over three sets let alone best of 5 tournament.

Novak in form!

We haven’t been able to say it much this season but Novak has shown great form over this week. Frustration was a big part of his performance against Nadal and it was great to see that frustration!

You might think well frustration shows something is up but it’s good to see Novak with that spark in his personality and game on the court again. His performance against Rafa was better.

Physically he was moving better and hitting the ball harder with control. More challenges will follow but I will be greatly surprised if he doesn’t make the second week of Paris.

Wawrinka must forget short term and focus on long term recovery!

The return from surgery is not going well for Stan Wawrinka, the former Grand Slam champion does not look fit and hasn’t all year but is still turning up to tournaments.

The season started in Melbourne and he saw off Berankis in R1 before falling to Sandgren in R2. A good week followed in Sofia but the field wasn’t that great and eventually lost to Basic in the semi finals but did defeat Klizan and Troicki.

In Rotterdam and Marseille the appearance was cut short, a defeat and a retirement saw to that and now the question is what next?

I’m quite in shock that Stan has actually turned up to these tournaments! It makes no sense as he has looked no where near physically fit enough to be competitive. I don’t know whether he was planning on playing himself into form but it hasn’t worked and now the long term future has to be key.

Stan had new surgery in August and I don’t think the recovery plan has been great. To have just over 6 months off tennis, have knee surgery and then attempt four tournaments in five weeks is odd.

I’d imagine the plan is to skip Indian Wells and Miami and I can’t imagine a full clay schedule would be ideal for him as this surface can be unforgiving on the body especially the knees.

Whatever happens next the long term future has to be the plan for Stan as you cant afford to be so careless with the recovery which is what it has been so far.

Wawrinka 2-6 1-6 4-6 Sandgren – Concerns over left knee for former champion!

Under no stretch of the imagination did anyone expect a deep run from Wawrinka in Melbourne this year. This was the former champions first tournament since his withdrawal from Wimbledon 6 months ago and 2 matches in 3 days have taken it’s toll.

Building match fitness and strength around the knee will take time and right now I don’t think he’s near match fitness and it would be a smart move in my opinion to have an extended break from tennis and build fitness ahead of Indian Wells and Miami. I don’t really see the point in pushing for a lot of tournaments right now.

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The positive for Stan was he did hit some of his grounds strokes well but did fall short on the projection off the serve and also the movement was lacking which is what you’d expect.

I was surprised after the second set to see Stan continue which I found odd. I understand not wanting to give up a match but here’s hoping he hasn’t done his body too much harm.

Rafa, Novak or Stan, which former champion is best prepared for Melbourne?

The question is who is best prepared?

Stan hasnโ€™t played a tournament since Wimbledon, Novak has been missing for about 5 months and Rafa pulled out of London with knee trouble so who out of these former Australian Open champions is best prepared for the first major?

Rafael Nadal

The world number one has played the most tennis but not much since November but the draw has been favourable to him. He turned up to Melbourne last year with little practice and got to the final and to be honest Iโ€™d be astounded if he didnโ€™t get to the semi-finals as with respect his path there is not challenging with only one other top 10 player in that section of the draw that being Cilic who he could meet in the quarter finals.

Stan Wawrinka

I donโ€™t really fancy Stanโ€™s chances in Melbourne, he is lacking match practice since late June/early July and Iโ€™d be surprised if he made it past round four which would likely be Dominic Thiem but failing that he could run into Verdasco or RBA in the third round.

Novak

Novak played well against Thiem the other day winning 6-4 6-2 but you canโ€™t read anything into it going into Melbourne. First up for Novak is Donald Young which will be tough then most likely Monfils and if he is going to get to the semi-final could have to defeat Zverev as well and then in the semi-final Roger is also in that half. If he does it will be one of the biggest achievements in recent history on the menโ€™s tour but whilst I wouldnโ€™t rule anything out I wouldnโ€™t bet on it.

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Best prepared? Nadal then Djokovic and finally Stan. All have been at Melbourne Park for a week now so are finding their feet but winning here in Melbourne will be difficult but they are multiple champions for a reason!

Stan’s ‘battling hard’ but will he be back to defend his title in New York?

By the time the US Open begins on the 28th of August it would have been 80 days since Stan Wawrinka won a tennis match a wait of almost three months since he defeated Andy Murray in the semi-finals of the French Open.

The defending US Open champion has withdrawn from the two Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati that lead up to the final major of the year in New York but it is looking unlikely at the moment that Stan will participate in the tournament.

In a statement he said he is battling hard to be back fit in time for the US Open with this injury bothering him for at least 6 weeks now.

The news opens up the draw even more as there will be no Novak Djokovic in New York in a few weeks time and the race is on for the defending champion to be fit for Flushing Meadows.

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