Tuesday, April 22, 2014

If Switzerland is neutral, then best declare Stan Wawrinka a foreign object.

A world away from the grassy expanses of the Swiss hills, a human destruction unit in the form of the twenty-eight year old is alive and kicking, unexpectedly painting the town red.

Not one would have thought a top ten journeyman never seen within the confines of the big four a title prospect. A quarter-final here, a semi-final there, maybe. A final - possibly, at a very long stretch, that is. But to win . . . well, nooooo.

Not last year, not this year nor any year for all eternity. But then what does he go and do? Yep, you guessed it, win a grand slam title in Melbourne. And against none other than the incomparable Rafael Nadal, too.

There is nothing neutral, nothing demure about this guy. Armed with the full range of weapons he can go ballistic at any given moment. It could be a heat seeking forehand; Though, at present, there may be no target hot enough. Or maybe a backhand stinger. Then add in a few thunderous serves and a willingness to come to the net; such an all-rounder. Whichever it is, the bigger the target the more explosive the situation. And there is no bigger target than Rafael Nadal. The biggest of the big.

First, though, there were a couple of pesky problems to negotiate.

Like getting past Novak Djockovic in the quarter's. Not the Serbian of old, one may say. But, then, not a mug either. And you can only beat who and what is put in front of you. Which he does with ease where ease confirms the heights with which such talent rises into the night . Over their shoulders, abroad the stars peering down upon such acclaim.

All the same, unfinished work arrived before the time to tick his call to fame.

By name, Thomas Berdych. Just one of many a star summoning the nerve to break a sweat in search of much the same. Wawrinka, always unlimited by talent aplenty, was here to stay. Never had consistency struck him at such a high level. Ten years upon a tour of gut wrenching hard work, staking out territories where one's mind knows deep down whether it belongs. Or whether it is all just a mirage.

Regardless, the dream never faded.

One image longed for and one image longing to escape the grasp of a dreams reality. That dream elongated for such an age, to shut away the lonely hope amid a career meandering to such a lowly stage for one so talented.

Twenty-eight, no spring chicken but success still in its infancy. To cap the bolt and lock the vault and catapult the bent within a colt.

A long time coming and over the hump. The belief of a champion in waiting surging through the arteries of desire.

Oh how much he wanted success. Perseverance became him.

Thomas Berdych, one more set than the least and tamed. A finalist named. Yet another Swiss fighting the good fight for the might of a grand slam title - And nothing express in sight. Against none other than the greatest of all time; Rafael Nadal.

The ultimate invite awaited him. To which that was gleefully accepted. Up amongst the titans of the sport, in a titanic battle with the peer of all peers. To fear and care and with the unfettered wings of a soulful goal so near, the tether of the nearly man was cast aside.

That, he did. The freedom to express his bent upon a world and introduce the dent of success within his own mind.

That was January, in the Australian Open. So long ago, yet success was sated and clung to him for all its worth.

Fast forward to April, and number three on the planet, for now, and a win on clay in last week's Monaco Masters. The best of the best were there. Nadal, Federer, Djockovic and Ferrer, yet Wawrinka was beyond compare. Sure, Nadal was out of soughts, losing to Ferrer and easing the path to glory.

But who is who and who would do all that is new amid the very few. Stan Wawrinka, that's who. A Final win over Federer in three sets, but not the last, one would suspect.

And for sure, Nadal will be back and stronger when the red clay of Paris doth appear. An open title, many of which have already crossed his sphere, he does not easily share. Eight already and nine to one nine is one he would like to snare.

Yet, here is the opportunity for Wawrinka to grasp a spot in the big four. To prove his bent is more than a one off.

To go to Paris and blast away the legendary. And to begin a legend anew.

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