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Federer challenges Stan to remain in big time (AFP)

  • 27.05.2008
Roger Federer has challenged Swiss compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka to cement his stunning rise into the world top ten and
prove he belongs to be living in such exalted company.
World number one Federer has admired 23-year-old Wawrinka's sudden rise from journeyman pro to serious title contender, but is concerned that the current state of the rankings system encourages false hope in many players.
"If you get two good results, you can be in the top ten, because myself, Rafael (Nadal) and (Novak) Djokovic are ahead of the pack," said the top seed at the French Open here.
"But I can tell you that Stan has seized his opportunity. Now he will have to confirm he's a different player in different tournaments. It's a very good period for him and I'm very happy for him."
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are the supreme powers in the men's game with the world number four Nikolay Davydenko of Russia over 2000 points behind Serbian Djokovic in fourth spot.
That gap is likely to widen with Australian Open champion Djokovic steadily making inroads into the second spot on the ladder held for so long by Nadal, the triple defending champion at Roland Garros.
Wawrinka is the world number 10 but seeded nine here following the injury-enforced absence of America's Andy Roddick.
The Swiss number two's progress in 2008 has been based on his runner-up spot to Djokovic at the Rome Masters having knocked out Roddick and James Blake on the way.
He was also a finalist in Doha, a semi-finalist at Barcelona and a quarter-finalist at the Indian Wells Masters.
"You can say that you want to be in the top 10, but making it into the top 10 is very difficult," added Federer.
"There are many tennis players so it's not easy to be among the top ten. Stan has worked very hard. I can tell you that he's also skillful.
"Last year he was injured and he didn't make progress. At Roland Garros this year he will be able to play well."
Wawrinka, the junior champion here in 2003, was scheduled to meet Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first round on Monday but the heavy rain, which decimated the programme, meant the match was rescheduled to Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Switzerland could also boast progress in the women's singles first round with veteran Patty Schnyder, the 10th seed, defeating Russia's Ekaterina Bychkova 6-3, 6-4.
Compatriot Timea Bacsinszky also made it through with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Austria's Tamira Paszek.

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(AFP)