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French Open champion Wawrinka moves out of Federer shadow (AFP)

  • 23.05.2008
He's Swiss, just like Federer and he's in the world's top 10, just like Federer.
But unlike the world's best player, the unheralded Stanislas Wawrinka already has a French Open title, a prize which his 12-time Grand Slam title-winning compatriot has toiled unsuccessfully to claim.
Wawrinka's glory at Roland Garros came as junior champion in 2003 and while his professional career has been a slow-burner, there are signs that this 23-year-old of Polish descent is about to fire on all cylinders.
The indications were there in 2006 when he claimed his one and only senior title on clay in Umag, Croatia.
His sober progress into the world's top 10 has been confirmed in 2008 where he was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Rome Masters having knocked out Andy 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.
"I would not imagine that there would be two players from Switzerland in the top 10," said Wawrinka.
"But I'm very happy for that. To be after Roger is very good. He's the No. 1, and for me it's a pleasure to now to be in the top 10, and be with him there."
Despite sharing such heady company, the low-profile Wawrinka refuses to take comparisons with the great man too seriously.
And he's right to do so. His one career title is 53 short of Federer's while he has pocketed around 38 million dollars less in career earnings.
"I'm not like Roger or Djokovic who is already number three at 20 so I'm not like this guy. I need more time to practice and to get experience."
But Wawrinka does have something in common with Federer apart from the same brand of passport - his desire to win a first Davis Cup for Switzerland.
This year Federer, as in most previous seasons, skipped the first round to concentrate on his singles career, but has pledged to return for September's World Group play-off against Belgium.
"He's a Swiss player and he's the number one," said Wawrinka.
"It's always nice to speak with him. We're good friends. I hope that one day he's going to play the Davis Cup full time, and maybe we have a chance to do something."