PARIS (Reuters) - Stan Wawrinka is resigned to the fact he will soon have to send out begging letters.
A year after reaching the French Open final, the three-times Grand Slam champion will effectively fall off the tennis radar after being beaten in the first round of the claycourt major.
Monday’s result will see his ranking plummet from 30th to outside the top 250 in the world when the new standings are released on June 11.
His inability to defend the 1200 ranking points he earned in Paris last year, combined with the knee injury that shut down his 2017 season last June, means he has effectively hit rock bottom as he will be left with around 210 points - good enough for 261st place this week.
To gain entry into events, he will now have to request wildcards, and rely on the goodwill of tournament organisers, if he wants to regain his place among the tennis elite.
Rather then getting worked up about his misfortune, Wawrinka put a positive spin on his predicament because as far as he is concerned the only way for him now is upwards and onwards.
“When you’re out of the tour because of injury, for sure your ranking will drop because you didn’t play,” the 2015 Roland Garros champion told reporters following his 6-2 3-6 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 defeat by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
“The ranking doesn’t lie. If you play you are at the top. If
you don’t play, you’re getting down. For sure, I’m going to require some wildcards. But again, if I have to play some (lower tier) challenger (tournaments), I have no problem with that.
“I know exactly where I want to be. I won three Grand Slams in my career and I know what it takes to do it. My goal is to get to back to the top. Sooner or later I will be.”
Rather than being in the doldrums about his defeat on Monday, Wawrinka was encouraged that his surgically repaired knee did not buckle under the pressure of playing a five-set match for the first time in a year.
“Today I lost ... but at the end of the day, if I look at my
level, I’m closer to where I want to be than (what) the ranking (says),” said the 33-year-old, who has won only four matches this year.
“I knew that following the surgery, it will take at least a year to get where I want to be.
“I’m on the right way. I’m playing well. The knee is keeping up and physically I am (feeling) stronger every day. So I need to keep pushing myself to get where I want to be. I was very close today.”
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar; editing by Andrew Roche