Did Wawrinka Crack Tennis’s Big Four, or Just Dent It?

Written by | January 27, 2014 | 0

Melbourne, Australia Jan 27 :  For nine years now, four players have defined an era of men’s tennis, their play so consistent the rest of the ATP World Tour seemed to exist on another planet. There was Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, and then there was everybody else.

So when someone outside the Big Four managed to win a Grand Slam singles title, as Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland did at the Australian Open on Sunday night, the temptation will always be to look for cracks in the hierarchy. To see if perhaps more than four players can maintain residency in the upper echelon, or can rent-to-buy, at least.

That is the temptation and, in some quarters, the hope. But there remains one problem with the idea of a shake-up, even in the wake of Wawrinka’s triumph — four problems, actually. Federer may never win another Grand Slam title, but the others are all still very much in their primes, and it will take an unusual confluence of events for the Wawrinkas of the tennis world to seize more than the occasional major tournament trophy.

That is not a knock on Wawrinka, who played the best tournament of his life the past two weeks. That is a nod to the Big Four, as dominant and steady as any four in the history of tennis. They did not combine to win 34 of 35 majors before Sunday for any other reason.

Those who disagree with that, or find the premise to be disrespectful to Wawrinka, need only listen to Wawrinka’s words from Sunday night. No one was more surprised at what happened than Wawrinka himself.

“I saw Roger winning so many Grand Slam in the past,” he said. “If you look the past 10 years, it’s only the top four guys who was winning all the Grand Slams. So, yeah, I will need time to realize what I did in these two weeks.”

For that, Wawrinka should be applauded. He toppled the No. 2 seed and defending champion in Djokovic. He bullied the baseline bully in Nadal, the tournament’s top seed. He continued to build on momentum that started last year, with a semifinal appearance at theUnited States Open.

 

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