Defending Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka had a dream season in 2014 but said Sunday he was starting from scratch again this year, refusing to nominate himself as a tournament favourite.
The Swiss star jumped through the rankings to end the year as world number four with a 39-17 match record, not only winning his maiden Grand Slam but also helping his home nation claim the Davis Cup. He said it had been unbelievable time, but was now in the past.
"It was a crazy 2014 for me, winning a Grand Slam, Masters 1000, finishing with the Davis Cup trophy," said the 29-year-old, who fronted a press conference wearing a "Stan the Man" t-shirt. "That's something amazing as a tennis player, something that you can only dream about it. For sure it changed a lot.
"Finishing number four, I'm really, really happy with that. "But now it's a new year. Everybody starts at zero again. You have to be ready to play great all the year." Wawrinka stunned Rafael Nadal to win the Australian Open decider last year, also upsetting three-time Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, Adding spice to his achievement was that he supplanted Roger Federer as the number one ranked Swiss player, a position his close friend had occupied since 2001.
Federer has since reclaimed his pedastal and he is one of the players Wawrinka sees as the champion this year, although he cited Djokovic as the favourite. "I will still put Rafa, Novak and Roger as the favourite of the tournament. Maybe a bit more Novak," he said, despite Nadal recovering from injury.
"Then you have to see. I still think that Rafa, if he get through the first week, then he's going to be really dangerous. "It's not about his game, it's more about the confidence he gets after few months out. "It's going to be interesting I think because you also have the young generation who is there trying to win a Grand Slam. I think it's going to be an exciting Australian Open."
Focusing on game one
While happy to finger who he thinks could win the title, Wawrinka is not ready to put himself among them, despite starting his season in perfect fashion by winning the Chennai Open for a second straight year. "I feel great coming here. Been getting a lot of confidence, winning the first tournament of the year," he said.
"(But) I'm not focused on that. I'm not putting my goal to win a Grand Slam. "I know I can do it, that's not the question. But it's a long way for that. "For me the most important is to be ready for the first match. I know how is it. I've been playing since so many years to know the deal. You have to be ready, take match after match, and see where you can go."
He has a seemingly straightforward first round clash with Turkey's Marsel Ilhan on Tuesday and faces a potential semi-final encounter with world number one Djokovic.
Since his breakthrough year, Wawrinka has been enjoying his new-found fame, particularly his nickname "Stan the Man". "Since last year, there are lot of nicknames," he said. "But 'Stan the Man' is the one coming back most of the time since many years already. Yeah, I quite like it."