London: Stan Wawrinka believes he can overcome not just a great friend and supreme champion in top form but also a crowd willing him to be beaten by their beloved Roger Federer at the ATP World Tour finals on Saturday.
Wawrinka and Federer will team up next week for Switzerland in the Davis Cup final against France in Lille but for one night before that in London’s O2 Arena, they will be fighting each other in what Federer calls an “historic” game for a place in Sunday’s final of the end-of-season classic.
Wawrinka, after sealing a place in the last four for a second successive year on Friday by beating Marin Cilic 6-3 4-6 6-3, conceded just how monumental his task would be to down a man who has dominated their previous encounters and, at 33, playing close to his ethereal best.
Yet Wawrinka believes he can upset all the odds.
"I hope I can get a little bit of support because I know people love him here,” he shrugged, recognising the O2’s love affair with the six-times ATP finals champion.
“It`s going to be tough for me, but I need to trust myself and go for it,” added the Australian Open champion.
Wawrinka has a terrible record against his friend, having lost 14 of their 16 matches and for five seasons between 2009 and 2013, losing 11 straight times. Yet in March this year, he finally prevailed over Federer in the Monte Carlo Masters final, a breakthrough triumph following his grand slam win in January which he feels stands him in good stead.
Asked if he really believed in himself, Wawrinka smiled: “I believe I can beat him. That’s not the question, for sure. He’s playing amazing tennis, especially in the past few months. It’s going to be a tough match for me, for sure, but I know I can do it.”
Federer avenged that defeat in the Wimbledon quarter-finals and will start once again as an overwhelming favourite, such is his current majestic run of form.
After his merciless unravelling of Andy Murray on Thursday, Federer had said: “It would be historic for us to make it for a second consecutive year into the semis. If we play each other, it’s a good thing that one of us is going to the final.”