Tim Henman tips Stan Wawrinka to reclaim Roland Garros title

Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal have been the outstanding players of the clay-court season so far, but Tim Henman believes that Stan Wawrinka could still be the man to beat when the French Open starts on Sunday. Although the 31-year-old Swiss has been well below his best in recent weeks, he returns to Roland Garros as defending champion.

“In terms of the highest level of tennis that anyone can produce on a clay court I think that Wawrinka’s might be the highest,” Henman said. “When he’s on song I imagine it must be nigh on impossible to play against him given the firepower that he has and the speed he can generate from the back of the court and on serve.

“The challenge for him is the consistency. Whereas Djokovic, for example, plays well nearly all the time, Wawrinka is much more inconsistent. However, I’m sure that he’ll get a lot of positive vibes from last year in coming back as the defending champion.”

Djokovic was the clear favourite to win last year’s final at Roland Garros, but after taking the first set was blown away by Wawrinka’s power. Wawrinka had beaten Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals and quarter-finals respectively, though he had been in modest form in the build-up to the tournament. He had lost in the semi-finals in Rome to Federer and in the third round in both Madrid and Monte Carlo to Grigor Dimitrov.

This year Wawrinka’s best showing so far on clay has been a run to the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo, where he lost to Nadal. He has won only one match since, having lost to Nick Kyrgios first time out in Madrid and to Juan Monaco in Rome.

Murray, Djokovic and Nadal have won the season’s three clay-court Masters Series titles. Murray beat Djokovic in the Rome final at the weekend, a result which Henman believes can be significant for the Scot.

“He had lost 12 of their previous 13 matches and that can get a bit disheartening,” the former world No 4 said. “To win a big final like that and to play as well as he did bodes very well for Paris. I like the place where he’s at with his team. Mentally he’s been very calm and focused on the court.”

Henman, who was speaking at the launch in Cheltenham of the new Jaguar F-PACE, which will be the official car at Wimbledon this summer, does not think Murray’s chances at Roland Garros will be affected by his split with his coach, Amelie Mauresmo.

“I think Jamie Delgado coming into the [coaching] team brings a lot of continuity,” Henman said. “He’s going to be with Andy for maybe 40 weeks of the year. He did a great job with Gilles Muller and I think he’s doing a great job with the team now. Things weren’t going particularly well with Mauresmo, so to finish that chapter and start afresh the way he’s played in the last month is very positive.”

Henman believes that Murray has made significant improvements to his serve. “I’ve definitely noticed how he has served particularly well at big moments, on big points, which is always a good platform for your game,” he said.

“He looks very comfortable in his movement and his shot selection has been very good. I like the way he changes the pace. When he gets the chance he’s very aggressive off his backhand and on the forehand he’s used a little bit more spin to get back into the points. There are a lot of very positive signs.

“I’ve always said that the French would be his biggest challenge and in the past I’ve doubted whether he could actually win it. Now I see Djokovic as the favourite in Paris, but with Murray, Nadal and Wawrinka in a group really close behind.”

Henman dismissed any suggestion that Djokovic might be showing signs of vulnerability, pointing out that the Serb has a huge lead in the world rankings. He has 16,150 ranking points compared with second-placed Murray’s 8,435.

“He was obviously a little bit fatigued towards the end of Rome, but his overall consistency and the way he’s played in the biggest events has been absolutely phenomenal,” Henman said. “Look at the rankings and how far ahead he is as No 1. If there’s vulnerability there, what does it say for the rest of the tour?”

As for Nadal, Henman agreed that the Spaniard had been playing some of his best tennis for two years in recent weeks, but is not sure whether his level will be high enough to secure a tenth French Open title. “The standard at the top is always improving,” Henman said. “That’s the reality of the tour at the highest level. If you’re standing still you’re going to get left behind. I think Nadal is playing great tennis, but I think the level has probably gone up at the top of the game.

“I also think the belief of other players has changed when they play him. So many people used to think he was virtually unbeatable on clay, but since he started showing some vulnerability opponents have been going on court thinking that they can cause an upset. Having said that, there’s no doubt that with his track record in Paris he knows how to win there. I definitely wouldn’t be writing him off.”

Henman said that for similar reasons you could not discount Roger Federer, though the Swiss has struggled physically this year and may yet pull out of Paris because of his recent back problem.

“It wouldn’t take him long to find his rhythm, but in terms of match fitness – certainly on clay – it’s a very big ask as he’s been struggling for so long,” Henman said. “He will be looking to give himself a foundation to see what he can do in Paris, but it may be that he has half an eye on the grass already.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/french-open-2016-tim-henman-tips-stanislas-wawrinka-to-reclaim-roland-garros-title-a7034806.html

While I don't think that Stan is the favorite, you can't keep a player like him quiet for long.
 
6-1 6-1 against Ramos-Vinolas yesterday is a positive sign.

Playing in Geneva on Saturday would not be ideal, but it probably wouldn't be a problem if Roland Garros delayed his opening round until Tuesday.
 

uscwang

Hall of Fame
Stan can be beaten by anybody in early rounds. But once in SF, he can be an animal.
And his record in finals is off the charts.
 

batz

G.O.A.T.
6-1 6-1 against Ramos-Vinolas yesterday is a positive sign.

Playing in Geneva on Saturday would not be ideal, but it probably wouldn't be a problem if Roland Garros delayed his opening round until Tuesday.

I guess it depends which half the RG schedulers want to go 'first'. I doubt they'd base that decision on Stan but maybe they would. Stan could be looking at a match on Monday. I hope he lights up by the time RG starts. the tennis is world is more interesting when the Stanimal is at large.
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
He didn't really tip anybody, just gave an assessment of where their games were at. Some praise was heaped upon Wawrinka but I fail to see where he assigned a probability to him replicating last years form. It's pretty unlikely Wawrinka repeats, precisely because the odds are so low that he will peak again, but if he does then those odds skyrocket.
 
Nice clickbait title.
"Tim Henman tips Stan Wawrinka to reclaim Roland Garros title" = I see Djokovic as the favourite in Paris, but with Murray, Nadal and Wawrinka in a group really close behind. o_O
You clearly don't have enough grey matter. I've posted the article, as it was given.
 

ChrisRF

Hall of Fame
“In terms of the highest level of tennis that anyone can produce on a clay court I think that Wawrinka’s might be the highest,”

Yeah...no.
That’s only reasonable if we presume that the tennis has to be good AND spectacular at the same time. Than Wawrinka always is a candidate when he reaches his highest level.

But if “highest level” only means “as effective as possible”, than there is no doubt that the answer has to be Nadal. His clay dominance was the epitome of boredome for years, but he just knew what to do. And there is no way that Wawrinka (even in full Stanimal mode) could dominate prime Nadal on clay with his backhand. It would have been abused by always the same shot just like all the other one-handed backhands.
 
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