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Weak no more, Stanislas Wawrinka uses his forehand at the 2014 Australian Open.
Stanislas Wawrinka has always had a great backhand. Anyone who has followed his career understands that. His forehand, however, has lagged behind that beautiful one-handed stroke.
But isn't that what was said of Stefan Edberg once upon a time? Brad Gilbert points that out in his book Winning Ugly. Once he raised the level of consistency of his forehand swing, he became a great champion. While Wawrinka may never achieve the Swede's glory, he has certainly overcome the weak forehand rap.
Both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, among others, know that he can't be pushed around the backcourt any longer.
A key metric to Wawrinka's Australian Open success was the success he had in the medium-length rallies. Against Nadal, he won 52 percent of those duels. Versus Djokovic he managed 44 percent. These are quite solid results from a player who is allegedly a one-trick pony.
Clearly his forehand is no longer a liability. And the backhand?
This alone sets him apart from players like Roger Federer, who tend to struggle against perennial French Open favorite Nadal. The one-two punch from Wawrinka should be enough to tilt things in his favor and enable him to find success.
So looking forward to the European clay-court season, keep these points in mind when evaluating the new No. 3 player's chances. Look for upcoming confidence against the others in the top five, and especially any clashes with Nadal and Djokovic. Watch his medium-to-long rally success this spring.
If these remain solid, look for a great chance of seeing Stanislas Wawrinka's name on the French Open trophy.