After ending his season in Basel last year with a back injury, Stan Wawrinka has performed decently in 2019. He finished as the runner-up in Rotterdam and followed that with a quarter-final loss to Nick Kyrgios at the Mexican Open.
At the first Major of the season in Australia, Wawrinka lost to Canada's Milos Raonic in four close tie-breakers. It can be said that the season has been a mixed bag for the Swiss star so far.
He is not moving as well as he did before his 2017 injury, but his second serve has improved significantly which has helped him to win a few close matches this year.
Wawrinka wouldn't have too high expectations coming into the Monte Carlo Masters in 2019. However, he did win the title once, back in 2014, where he defeated his fellow countryman Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6, 6-2.
In the first round of the tournament this year, Wawrinka has defeated the local favorite and the current World No. 30 Lucas Pouille 7-5, 6-3. In the second round, he could face either Marco Cecchinato or Damir Dzhumur. Wawrinka has never faced these players before, and it would be interesting to see how he handles them.
If Wawrinka gets past the hurdle of either Dzhumur or Cecchinato, he could face the Croatian Marin Cilic in the third round. The result of that potential match is tough to predict as both the players are struggling to find form. However, a slight edge would have to be given to the Swiss considering his performances over the last couple of months.
After that would come the challenge that Wawrinka would like to evade at all costs - facing Rafael Nadal in the quarter-final. That said, Nadal might not be in perfect shape and his first three matches will give an indication of how fit he is.
It could be assumed that Wawrinka's journey will stop there, but it's worth remembering that he is one of the very few players to have defeated the Big 3 (Federer, Nadal and Djokovic) at the Majors.
If Wawrinka somehow defeats Nadal in the quarters, he will definitely be among the top contenders for the title and will be taken seriously by all the players in the other half, especially Novak Djokovic. But for that to happen, Wawrinka needs to be solid with his shot-making and should stick to his strength - overpowering his opponents by hitting with consistent depth and pace from the baseline.Published 15 Apr 2019, 01:33 IST