Stan Wawrinka closes in on return

Stan Wawrinka says returning to action in Rome next week is the goal, after pulling out of Madrid as a precaution.

“I lost 10 days’ training because of a calf injury,” Wawrinka said Thursday as he confirmed his presence in Gstaad, after Wimbledon. “The knee is holding up. I’m convinced I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

He called upon former coach Magnus Norman for a two-week training block. “After that, we’ll see,” he said.

Wawrinka’s schedule is a work in progress. He’s not ruling out Switzerland’s Davis Cup playoff tie in September.

Norman departure “a real shock” for Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka said the second knee surgery was the hardest.

That one was to fix a hole in the cartilage of the left knee, the scars of an issue he said began all the way back at the 2016 US Open.

But it came to a head during this year’s grass-court season, and the 32-year-old Swiss star hasn’t played since.

Wawrinka met the media at the Geneva Country Club on Friday to update his state of mind – and knee – as he prepares to return in 2018.

From the media reports that have come out of Switzerland, Wawrinka didn’t mince words. Which is one of his finer qualities.

Shock, surprise at Norman departure

If all goes according to plan, Wawrinka plans to play the tournament in Rotterdam in February, where Richard Krajicek (left) is the tournament director. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Per the Tribune de Genève, Wawrinka said longtime coach Magnus Norman’s decision to leave him was “a real surprise for me, a real shock – even more so knowing that I needed to lean on him, as part of my team, at that very moment.”

He said that during the toughest moments of your career, you need to be able to count on those closest to you. Clearly, he felt a sense of betrayal that’s going to take some time to get over.

“Nothing positive about it”

Wawrinka also said well-meaning people told him the break would be good for him.

But Wawrinka said he found absolutely nothing positive about it – not a single, solitary thing. He only picked up his racquet again at the end of October.

Wawrinka still has Yannick Fattebert, the low-profile coach who has been with him on a regular basis for five years as Norman has gotten all the public accolades. But he said he’s not ruling out looking for a second coach to full Norman’s role.

But he added that he’s not in a rush. “I’d need someone who could bring new things to training,” he said.

Eight weeks on crutches

“Obviously, after two operations, spending eight weeks on crutches, that’s quite simply the worst thing for a high-level athlete. Not only are you away from the court, you’re really really far away. Total inactivity. It’s clear it was a very difficult period. You have to get the muscles trained again, find your reflexes again,” he said in a television interview.

“My goal is to play an exhibition at Abu Dhabi Dec. 26 to get some matches, test myself a little, see where I’m at,” he added. “The goal is to do the maximum to be back at 100 per cent. At the moment, everything is positive relative to that … I’m too eager to have more results, to finish my career properly. I know I still have a few years ahead of me at a high level.”

Not 100 per cent

Wawrinka said that as of today, he’s not all the way back – either mentally, or tennis-wise.

Wawrinka, seen here at the 2016 US Open, said the problem with the left knee first surfaced there. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

“But I’m working hard,” he said. “It seems to be going in the right direction.”

Wawrinka said he wanted to play another four years. But he was more focused on the immediate goal of being 100 per cent in order to play the Australian Open next month.

He plans to return to full-out training on Monday.

Put the Tribune article through Google Translate for more details on Wawrinka’s tentative schedule, and how the other top players have been in touch.

Sore del Potro in Basel semis

Juan Martin del Potro stood at No. 47 in the race to London before the US Open. 

But, suddenly, he’s come alive. He’s in the Basel semifinals and plays a tired Marin Cilic Saturday.

If he can win that event, he would vault into the No. 8 spot in the race.

And there’s a Masters 1000 series event next week.

“My back is sore, my wrist, my hips, my knees – pretty much everywhere, in fact,” del Potro told the media in Basel, laughing. “But, well, I can still get up out of my chair, so it’s good.”