stanislas wawrinka

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Anxious stars: Stanislas Wawrinka, Mardy Fish and Rebecca Marino


Sportspersons are also human.

Much as we may be intimidated by their almost superhuman prowess on the playing field, they are just as prone to the same worries as any other man or woman. 

Stress or panic attacks are no longer uncommon in our heroes.

Stanislas Wawrinka is the latest to open up about his demons detailing the tears he couldn’t prevent before the Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic which incidentally he won after dropping the first set.

The pressure of expectations can be high and the bulky Swiss almost came undone in dramatic fashion.

Speaking to Sport24, Wawrinka said:

“A lot of people are asking me how I was able to take the court, nonchalantly, when five minutes prior to that I had a stress attack and I was trying to hold back tears. I tried [but] I wasn’t able to.

I was close to breaking point – the moment where you let it all out, physically and nervously. I really felt I was at my limit. Maybe with the heat everyone thought I was perspiring.

So,  how did I do it? I’ll tell you. I hurt myself. I tried to extend rallies as much as possible – one more shot, and another – to make the legs churn and not the head.

When I’m nervous like that, the fatigue feels a lot, lot stronger. And my legs hurt so much. I even screamed at my box, ‘I can’t make it. I’m dead. My legs are gone’. I was hurting so much. I was pushing myself so hard. I was so out of breath that I finally ended up muffling those little voices in my head.”

Brazilian great Ronaldo was not so fortunate.

The buck-toothed striker pulled out of the 1998 World Cup final against France demoralising his side which then succumbed to Zinedine Zidane’s magic. Many believe the script would have been different had Ronaldo taken the field.

Tennis stars Mardy Fish and Rebecca Marino succumbed to the vagaries of the games and ended their careers prematurely.

Fish struggled with anxiety attacks and a heart problem for three years before calling it a day in 2015.

Writing for Player’s Tribune, Mardy says:

“‘Don’t play.’

I am hours away from playing in the biggest tennis match of my life: the fourth round of the U.S. Open … on Labor Day … on my dad’s birthday … on Arthur Ashe … on CBS … against Roger Federer. I am hours away from playing the greatest player of all time, for a chance at my best-ever result, in my favorite tournament in the world. I am hours away from playing the match that you work for, that you sacrifice for, for an entire career.

And I can’t do it.

I literally can’t do it.

It’s early afternoon; I’m in the transportation car on my way to the courts.

And I am having an anxiety attack.

Actually, I’m having several anxiety attacks — at first, one every 15 minutes or so, but pretty soon every 10. My mind starts spiraling. I’m just freaking out.

My wife is asking me, ‘What can we do? What can we do? How can we make this better?’

And I tell her the truth: ‘The only thing that makes me feel better right now … is the idea of not playing this match.’”

The ironic part is that Mardy Fish always had problems with his weight.

But he turned himself around soon after his marriage in 2009 and lost 30 lbs going from 202 to 172.

In 2011, he became the highest ranked American surpassing his close friend Andy Roddick.

In 2012, he was No. 8.

He was one of the élite.

And that’s when the anxiety levels increased.

He writes:

“The idea that I wasn’t good enough was a powerful one — it drove me, at an age when many players’ careers are winding down, to these amazing heights. But it also became a difficult switch to turn off. I was, objectively, doing great. And looking back, I wish I had been able to tell myself that. But doing great wasn’t something that my frame of mind back then had time to process. All I could focus on was doing better. It was a double-edged sword.”

He started experiencing heart arrhythmias and underwent a corrective procedure called an ablation.

But the anxiety attacks continued.

Things came to a head when he decided that he couldn’t go on court in front of 22,000 spectators at the 2012 US Open and play Roger Federer.

And then he just stopped playing.

He concludes his piece thus:

“But I am here to show weakness. And I am not ashamed.

In fact I’m writing this, in a lot of ways, for the express purpose of showing weakness. I’m writing this to tell people that weakness is okay. I’m here to tell people that it’s normal.

And that strength, ultimately, comes in all sorts of forms.

Addressing your mental health is strength. Talking about your mental health is strength. Seeking information, and help, and treatment, is strength.

And before the biggest match of your career, prioritizing your mental health enough to say, You don’t have to play. You don’t have to play. Don’t play …

That, too, is strength.

As for what comes next, I’m not sure. I’m 33 now, and I know that I’ll never do anything as well as I played tennis. But that’s fine.

I still deal with my anxiety on a daily basis. I still take medication daily. It’s still in my mind daily. There are days that go by where I’ll think to myself, at night, when I’m going to bed: Hey, I didn’t think about it once today. And that means I had a really good day.

Those are the victories, for me.

But there is no tournament to win for mental health. There are no quarterfinals, or semifinals, or finals. I will not be ending this piece with a sports metaphor.”

Because sports end in a result. And life keeps going.

Mine, I hope, is just getting started.

 

Rebecca Marino—Canadian top player of the year in 2010 and 2011—quit the game because she could no longer stand the incessant trolling on social media. She had been battling depression for six years.

Marino, however, has not given up on sport completely.

She’s a member of University of British Columbia’s rowing crew.

She said:

“It’s been a while since I’ve had a bad day. I honestly can say I’m a different person. That’s why I stepped away from tennis — to find myself and work on my mental and physical well-being.

And here I am.”

She adds:

“I’m pretty comfortable with how things went. I can’t really look back and wonder: ‘What if?’ I’m in a really great place.

I’m doing things I love now. I wouldn’t change it.”

Rowing is in the family too.

Her uncle, George Hungerford, represented Canada at the 1964 Rome Olympics and clinched gold. Her brother competed at the University of California.

“I actually avoided rowing for a long time.I just thought: ‘I’m never going to wake up at 4 a.m., come to practice, go until I almost want to puke.

Who would want to do that?’ 

…There’s a camaraderie. You really bond together as a crew.”

Marino still doesn’t watch tennis though.

Why Serena should not be ruled out yet


Is it the beginning of the end for Serena Williams?

Three shots at glory—a 22nd Slam—all gone a-begging.

The US Open last year would have made it a genuine Grand Slam—all four big guns in a calendar year.

It was not to be.

And the next two Slam finals have only seen Serena fall by the wayside to her younger opponents—German Angelique Kerber and Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.

American tennis is on the wane and Serena—their last bastion—is losing her glitter too.

Yes, Serena is not getting any younger. She’s 34—and she’s treading the path that Roger Federer has over the last four years—still competitive but not a real contender.

At least, Federer had the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka to reckon with.

Williams has no such excuse. She’s still No.1 and she’s expected to dominate her younger opponents.

Is it a mental thing? Is there some fragility , some frailty, not apparent earlier?

It would appear so—every opponent now has the belief that on their day, they can bring the 21-time champion to ground level from her previous stratospheric heights.

Are we being too harsh, too critical already?

Most top 10 women players would give an arm and a limb to have the same kind of results Serena has achieved in the past three Slams.

Yes, Serena’s vulnerable but there’s also a possibility that she can snatch a bigger slice of history once Wimbledon begins in another three weeks.

Lush green grass will tell.

Tennis: Nick Kyrgios targets Stan Warinka with inappropriate remarks at Rogers Cup


Nick Kyrgios is young and stupid.

He’s an ass.

A sorry ass but nevertheless an ass.

A sledge went awry and suddenly the bad boy of Australian tennis is the scourge of the gallant game.

Australian cricketers, perhaps, could teach the young man the intricacies of gamesmanship.

“Nick, don’t indulge in sledging with your front to the camera specifically with your voice audible to the on-court microphone. We could have easily told you that, mate!”

The insult was grave; it also needlessly involved a third party and a fourth, both of whom had very little to do with the battle in the center.

Kyrgios dragged Wawrinka’s current girlfriend Croatian Donna Vekic and Nick’s compatriot and doubles partner Thanasi Kokkinakis into a sordid war of words.

Wawrinka recently separated from his wife and is now dating Vekic.

Vekic is a younger, blonder version of Maria Sharapova or Caroline Wozniacki or both or so the marketing geniuses at the WTA would have us believe.

She’s currently ranked 127th in the world.

Stan, the Man, was quick to respond to the hothead’s slurs taking to Twitter calling for swift action from the ATP.

The Swiss star revealed that he later confronted the Aussie in the locker room.

He said:

“He tried to avoid me, but I confronted him. I just hope that the ATP will take big measures against him because he’s young maybe, but there’s no excuse. Every match he has problems. Every match he behaves very badly. On top of that the problem is that he doesn’t just behave badly towards himself he behaves very badly towards the people around: the other players, the ball kids, the umpires. I really hope the ATP will take major action against him this time.”

Kokkinakkis was linked to Vekic in 2013 but has laughed off any such rumours of them being a pair except on court.

Kyrgios was fined $10,000 for his remark  by the ATP.

This is the highest fine allowed for an offense for bad behaviour while playing.

Novak Djokovic reacted:

“I think it is very important to keep the fairness in the sport. There is no excuse for what he has said.”

Kyrgios posted an apology on Facebook for his fans:

Members of the Kyrgios family have not made it easy for their starling.

Nill Kyrgios, Nick’s mother, speaking to Fairfax Media, said:

“It’s not a nice thing to say, it’s not, but you can’t always cop it on the chin from other people without retaliating. If you give people lip then you’ve got to receive some back. You know that Stan did say that Nick was faking an injury last time they played and Nick was actually very sick (with asthma). So there was no love lost there to start with. We let it go, we didn’t comment on Stan’s comment. That’s still in Nick’s head, so the minute that Stan starts giving Nick cheek, what do you think will happen? He’ll say whatever comes to his mind that will upset the guy.”

The Greek-Australian’s elder brother Christos was dumped from an interview with Sydney radio station Triple M.

Christos continued to make derogatory remarks about Wawrinka’s love interest Vekic.

The sibling appears to have said that Vekic “loved the ‘kokk’”.

Christos then went onto Facebook to update his online pals.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

“‘So just did a media interview for nick. Said Donna obviously loved the ‘kokk’ they cut my interview and said its the worst thing they have ever heard on air. Ah cheers.”

Friends posted messages laughing at his comment, before Christos responded: 

‘Hahahah f**k me who cares if the women likes a root – good on her, jump on the Kokk then on the stanimal IDC!! All I know it Nicholas Hilmy Kyrgios the king fried his ass.’”

In other reports, it is discovered that Kygrios delivered another barb at Wawrinka during the Rogers Cup match that he won.

He added another innuendo saying:

“He’s banging a nineteen-year-old.”

Much as we would all like to believe that these Kyrgios reprehensible actions are aberrations and there will be no such repetition of such obnoxious behaviour or attitude on-court or off, it is hard to believe that the young Australian can be reined in without an older, calming influence on him.

It is also clear that such a service can hardly be expected from his emotional family members who clamber on the train wreck that is Nick Kyrgios at full throttle.

It’s true that family is expected to stand together. But there has to be a line drawn at atrocious behaviour. While the Kygrios contingent is right to point out the history behind the provocation, Nick had no right to embroil Vekic or Thanasi in the drama. His mother and brother may be emotionally and financially invested in Nick’s success or failure in the sport but that does not allow them to dictate terms to the ATP or tennis fans.

Kyrgios was right to issue an apology and pay his fine. No further defense or excuses are needed. Social media fury is short-lived. The Australian has a glittering future awaiting him if he grabs his chances.

Lleyton Hewitt is believed to be mentoring the excitable talent. But is he the best person for the job? Hewitt himself was and is an atypical Aussie believed to be too intense and too much of a scrapper on court.

The question then is:

Who’ll bell the cat?

Stan the man is two for two in Grand Slam finals


I thought I was going to be writing an article on whether Career Grand Slams have become de rigueur in the current age of tennis or we are blessed to have three to four outstanding players converge on the sport in the same era.

It was not to be.

Stanislas Wawrinka (va-vreeng-kah) had other thoughts.

The Swiss No. 2 (he’ll probably be No. 1 this week) defeated the World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in four sets on a Sunday afternoon in Paris.

He is no longer a one-Slam wonder.

Aficionados might have cribbed that his first Slam, the Australian Open in 2014, was handed him on a platter. A favourable draw and an injured Nadal were the variables that worked to his advantage.

But very few can begrudge him his second Slam. Djokovic may not have had enough time to recover from a grueling semi-final. But the Swiss had to fight hard to get to the finals, ousting his idol Federer on the way.

Wawrinka recently ended his marriage to  Swiss TV presenter Ilham Vuilloud.

Wawrinka said:

“We have enjoyed ten fulfilling years, with all the ups and downs that every couple experiences, but sometimes life is more challenging than one would hope.

Ilham and I were both blessed to create a family when our wonderful daughter Alexia was born in 2010. We have always tried to live our lives as a team and as a family, despite the challenges we have faced due to the demands of my career. To my great regret this isn’t possible anymore.

Ilham will always be the mother of my daughter and a person that I have a lot of love and respect for. We will always remain as a family. Now my priority is to do everything to protect Alexia during these challenging times.

I hope that the fans and the media will understand that I’ve always been very protective of my private life and wish to continue to do so not giving any further information about the situation.”

Nice guys do not have to always finish last.

Roger Federer: What he said, really meant and definitely did not


crop of Roger Federer wins the 2009 Wimbledon

Roger Federer Pushes Stan The Man’s ‘Buttons’

What he said:

If Stan wants me to do some push-ups to pump him up, I’ll do that, if he wants me to sleep on the floor of his bed[room] I’ll do that, to keep him warm as we’re both missing our children and stuff, so whatever he wants me to do I’m relaxed at this point. I’ll be here tomorrow of course – except if he doesn’t want me.

Roger Federer was ready to do almost anything to help his Davis Cup teammate, Stanislas Wawrinka, clinch his tie against Lleyton Hewitt. Wawrinka needed just six points to win his five setter on Monday, 19th September, 2011. Switzerland beat Australia in Australia—the final score read 3-2.

What he really meant:

“No Mirka, no kids, just us guys. It ought to have been an enjoyable guys outing Down Under but  we’re home buddies now.Stan, let’s get back home—pronto.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Stan and I are gonna yodel into the night and read out aloud our kids’ favourite bedtime tale ‘Heidi’.”

Patrick McEnroe: What he said, really meant and definitely did not


John and Patrick McEnroe at the 2009 US Open

Patrick McEnroe Tweets A Manly Post

What he said:

“In tennis terms Donald Young became a man today.”

Patrick McEnroe’s tweet  following Young’s five-set upset of Stanislas Wawrinka in the second round of the US Open.

What he really meant:

“Note I only said ‘in tennis terms’. Not, in general attitude or demeanour.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“What a @#$*()& great result for US Tennis. You get the drift, don’t you?”

Roger Federer: What he said, really meant and definitely did not


Roger Federer, Miami, Florida, 2007

What he said:

“It was jogging shoes with jeans and a practice shirt, now I dress more accordingly to where I’m going and have started taking a joy in putting on suits. Maybe I have 25 or 35 [suits], I’m not sure. I think it’s important to offer something different to the fans and important you enjoy it, and I do.”

Roger Federer lets us know that his fashion sense has matured over the years together with his game and 16 majors.

What he really meant:

“Come on, folks, I have to spend all those dollars somewhere and why not on nice clothes? 35? Is that too much for a multi-millionaire?”

What he definitely didn’t:

“The stuff I wear on court are all gratis, anyway.”

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Tennis Bytes:From Melbourne Park Results To Predicting Winners … and Losers


Novak Djokovic At The 2006 U.S. Open

Image via Wikipedia

Spoilsport Novak

Novak Djokovic played spoilsport at the 2011 Australian Open annexing his second major after a dry spell of three years.

Sportswriters were forced to scramble to change the headlines they had imagined citing either a Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer triumph. They had to reinvent their catch-phrases.(Damn you, Djokovic!)

The Serb’s victory was welcomed as the emergence of the Third Force.

The fallout was swift. In a rush to hail the rise of the young brigade, ‘tennis pundits’ were quick to pronounce death sentence on the Federer- Nadal rivalry.

It may soon be a case of the doomsayers having to eat their words all over again.

However, they are not totally wrong.

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Quote/Misquote: Stanislas Wawrinka,Roger Federer,Novak Djokovic,Rafael Nadal,Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Na Li (Satire)


Stanislas Wawrinka against Jérémy Chardy in th...

Image via Wikipedia

STANISLAS WAWRINKA

"I have no idea. Sorry. I have no idea why."

What he really meant:

I don’t know why Europeans dominate tennis right now. I just play, man, don’t bother me.

What he definitely didn’t:

The Europeans have stolen the Americans’ and Australians’ spinach and will keep popping them in the eye.

(Popeye refrain "I’s bin hornswoggled!” in background.)

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Tennis Bytes:Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi triumph in Chennai and other stories


Leander Paes (the lauda) and his former double...

Image via Wikipedia

Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes have done it again.

The Indian Express triumphed at the 2011 Aircel Chennai Open subduing the Dutch-American pair of Robin Hasse and David Martin 6-2, 6-7 (3), 10-7.

The Chennai tourney has Indian champions once more. This is the first time since 2002 that an Indian pair have inscribed their names on the trophy. It was the duo of Bhupathi and Paes who claimed it then as well.

Somdev Devvarman came close in 2009, losing to Marin Cilic in the final.

It was fitting that the duo came together in the sweltering environs of the South Indian city that boasts the best-known tennis families in India—the Krishnans and the Amritrajs, to clinch their first title this year.

Sceptics felt  that the two would find it difficult to reprise their form of the late 90s and early oo’s, given their aging bodies and slower reflexes.

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