‘Have great memories from 2011, and last year’

Tattooed on his left arm is a Samuel Beckett quote that reads, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” For a good part of 2013, he has indeed failed better, notching up eight wins over the top-10, and losing only to the best. Due to feature at the Aircel Chennai Open as top seed, the world’s eighth best player, Stanislas Wawrinka, shared his thoughts in an email interview with The Hindu.

What did you do differently in 2013 to have had such a great season?

I gained a lot of confidence from my great performance in Australia, even though I lost to Novak Djokovic. Winning in Oeiras (the Portugal Open) was a huge confidence booster.

I always knew that I could be back in the top-10 if I keep working hard, and I’m happy that I made it.

Close losses like those to Djokovic in Melbourne and in New York might have shattered many, but you seem to have gained strength from them. Can you explain that?

You probably know about the tattoo. As a tennis player you have to get used to losing. There’s only one player a week who goes home without losing.

Even if you play a great event, like I did in New York (where he made his first ever Grand Slam semifinal), you end up losing. But the most important thing is what you learn from losing, and how you improve and work afterwards.

At 28 years, do you feel the breakthrough year has come a bit too late?

Not at all! Look at players like Roger Federer, Tommy Haas or Radek Stepanek. They all play great tennis, and are over 30.

Today’s tennis is played at such a high level, you need to grow into it, have experience, learn how to deal with your body, the travelling, the pressure and so on.

Do you think you have finally emerged out of Roger Federer’s shadow?

To me, he’s the biggest player of all-time. I would never ever compare myself to him. So emerging of his shadow would never be a goal.

What happened this year, especially in Switzerland, is that people started paying much more attention to me because of my good results and the way I was fighting during some big matches. That’s what counts for me.

Now you are into the top 8. Where do you go from here and what are your goals for 2014?

Players in the top-20 are very close to each other and it’s so tough to step ahead. So I’m glad to be back in the top-10, and even happier to reach my career-best ranking of eight.

Now I want to make it to another (Grand Slam) semifinal. You don’t have to take anything for granted. It would be arrogant to say that I want to reach a final because I reached a semifinal this year.

Of course, I want to go as far as possible, and I would love to do very well again.

This is your sixth visit to the city. You have been both singles and doubles champion. What are your expectations?

Chennai has always been one my favourite stops. I like coming here and the atmosphere on centre court is always great. Of course, I have great memories from 2011, and also from last year when I won the doubles. I’m looking forward to being back, and am hoping to make another strong appearance.

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