PARIS: Stan Wawrinka has never arrived so late for a grand slam but believes his extended stay in Geneva where he won the claycourt title on Saturday was perfect preparation for his attempted defence of the French Open title.
While most players were already hitting on the Parisian dust, Wawrinka was beating Marin Cilic back home in Switzerland for his first claycourt title since stunning Novak Djokovic a year ago at Roland Garros.
“It’s the first time I have arrived so late, that’s for sure,” third seed Wawrinka, who plays Czech Lukas Rosol in the first round, told a news conference on Sunday.
“I hope it’s not going to bother me for tomorrow. My confidence is up. I’m feeling good. I’m feeling fit. My tennis is there, and I’m ready to play my first match tomorrow,” he added.
“Hopefully, I’ll get the real pace of a grand slam.”
Wawrinka is one of only five grand slam champions in the men’s draw, alongside Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Marin Cilic, yet the 31-year-old remained as bashful as ever when asked about his chances of retaining the title.
“I can go deep. I know that. But I’ll have to try to keep my focus to get started,” he said.
“I’d say that Novak is the main favourite. It was the case last year. It’s going to be very difficult to beat him. Then there is Murray and Nadal on an equal footing.
“Then I’m just after them. Just after.”
Fellow Swiss Roger Federer will not be standing in the way, though, after the 17-times grand slam champion and former French Open winner was ruled out due to injury.
“The fact that Roger is not playing, it’s not the best news for him and for tennis,” Wawrinka said.