Lose-win scenario in Chennai
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On the forearm that does not participate in his hallmark stroke, the single-handed backhand in all its charm, Stanislas Wawrinka has a message inscribed in cursive ink. Spread over two lines and a couple of veins, the tattoo reads: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." Those 12 words and six punctuation marks were first strung together by Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett, for a prose piece called Worstward Ho. Wawrinka must have smiled as he read it. It summed up the very existential nature of his life.
Few top tennis players have ever tried and ever failed like this world number eight Swiss. Forget aspiring to become the best player in the world, Wawrinka perhaps knew that he wouldn't ever be the best player in his country; not as long as Roger Federer was swishing back his locks on a tennis court. The crisis deepened in 2011. At the season opener in Chennai, his laser sharp returns sliced through some stiff competition in the form of Tomas Berdych and former Chennai Open champ Xavier Malisse to win Wawrinka his first hardcourt title. And third over all.
With the Nungambakkam crown, he broke into the top-20 — a sign of his career heading in the right direction. Only, Federer ended any stray hope by brushing his countryman off in the early rounds of both the Australian and French Opens, before Simone Bolelli (ranked 116 then) and Donald Young (84) put his season out of its misery with easy second round defeats at Wimbledon and the US Open respectively.
"Such is life. There is only one person a week who goes home without losing," he was quoted as saying shortly before beginning 2012 outside the top 20. "And if youre not Roger, Rafa, Nole or Andy, you always lose."
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