Tennis may no longer be a young man’s game when seasoned veterans continue to leave an imprint at the top tier of men’s tennis.
There are no fewer than 16 players in the year-end Top 100 on the ATP Tour, and it was 38-year-old Stan Wawrinka who topped that list as the oldest of the bunch. The three-time Grand Slam champion finished the season ranked 49th, which is an impressive turnaround within 12 months.
Having begun the 2023 season ranked 148th in the rankings, Wawrinka carved out 27 match wins. This is the Swiss one-hander’s most productive return since 2019, when he was ranked in the world’s Top 20. During the season, he reached his first ATP final in four years.
While he may have lost some yards of pace and ground stroke speed, especially off that backhand, he has retained the moxie and resilience that has kept his career on the road. Wawrinka is preparing to play on the pro tour for a 23rd year in 2024.
He has not intended to stop, although he hinted that he is aiming to win one more ATP title before he calls it a day. That nearly happened in Umag this summer, where the Swiss legend suffered a tearful defeat to Alexei Popyrin in the final.
But even in the twilight of his career, the 38-year-old has never lacked in competitive spirit, earning a pair of Top 10 wins this season. It is easy to forget the rough road he has walked in the past few years. Wawrinka underwent double surgery on his knee and foot, and it is a minor miracle that he is ranked in the Top 50.
Few tennis players can control Wawrinka’s humongous shotmaking when he is at the top of his game. He is one of three players to have beaten each member of the traditional Big Four at Grand Slams.
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