On this special 192nd episode of “Listen In With KNN” presented by Fox Sports 1340AM/96.9 FM, executive producer and host Kelsey Nicole Nelson welcomed special guest former US Open Champion and Olympic gold medalist Stan Wawrinka to the show.
The duo discussed this year’s thrilling US Open tournament that had many discussing how the future of tennis is in good hands with so many young stars. Wawrinka, a native of Switzerland, grew up playing tennis early on. He began playing the sport when he was 8-years-old. Fast forward and in 2002, Wawrinka was named a professional tennis player when he was 17. His then tennis coach Dimitri Zavialoff helped develop his athletic abilities.
Nelson and Wawrinka quickly jump into their discussion with Nelson wanting to know from Wawrinka what it means to him to be both an ambassador for the sport of tennis and the Switzerland nation. Wawrinka said, “I think it’s just great, I’m super happy… I think what I’ve achieved so far… It’s something amazing and now I’m trying to recover from surgery to come back and play at the highest level.”
Wawrinka has reached some of the highest levels of tennis to which he has fond memories. But unfortunately, due to injury this year, he had to pull out of this year’s US Open and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to recover. Fast forward to today and he says he’s doing well on his road to recovery. “I’m doing much better… I’m starting to feel better with my body,” said Wawrinka. As far as his timetable to return, he doesn’t know exactly when he will be back fully healthy and ready to play but he remains optimistic about the news he will be getting from his surgeon about his recovery in the coming weeks.
As we look at the current state of tennis, Wawrinka showed no qualms about sharing his thoughts on this year’s US Open. Wawrinka said, “I think we all are thinking about Novak trying to achieve the slam… There was a lot of big matches… It was really exciting to watch some matches from the US Open this year… As I say it’s one of my favorite tournaments in New York it’s always special to see the fans back this year… We all like when we’re playing tennis, especially there in New York, so it’s going to be interesting to see the end of the tournament.”
In his own career, Wawrinka won three Grand Slam titles at the 2014 Australian Open, 2015 French Open and the 2016 US Open, where he defeated the No. 1 player in the final on all three occasions. He also reached the final of the 2017 French Open, winning an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the Monte-Carlo Masters in 2014, and reaching three other finals at 2008 Rome, 2013 Madrid and 2017 Indian Wells. “Winning the Olympics was of course something special… It was my first big trophy and it was really special playing for Switzerland to represent your country… It was something I always dreamed of, so winning that was crazy.” Said Wawrinka. Wawrinka also reminisced on being the 2016 US Open champion saying, “My victory was there after the last part of the match… During the match I knew and saw I was playing my best tennis and I was ready for the fight… So winning it was an amazing memory, especially against Novak in New York.”
In addition to shedding light on the current state of tennis, Wawrinka was able to share his thoughts on some of the mental health pressures that star athletes like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka have recently gone through. On the topic of mental health, Wawrinka did shine some light from an athlete perspective. He said, “I think it’s really personal… There’s always some pressure on you, I had some ups and downs in my career. It’s never easy to deal with everything that tennis brings you. I’m sure Naomi is [on] a different level up there with everything she has achieved so young… It’s always important to share that and to really listen to yourself… It’s important to really make sure you are ready for that.”
Today, Wawrinka continues to play tennis while balancing the joys of fatherhood as he currently is dad to his daughter Alexia. “I’m really happy so far with my career… All my dreams came true… I always enjoy the process, enjoying the challenge in tennis and hopefully I can keep pushing myself for a few more years,” exclaimed Wawrinka as he looks ahead to his future.