Wawrinka vies for honours at Swiss Open
Stanislas Wawrinka, fresh from an adrenaline-stoking parachute jump at the weekend, is aiming to win the Swiss Open tennis tournament at Gstaad for the first time in his 10th attempt amid the hype surrounding Roger Federer's surprise entry.
Wawrinka, ranked tenth in the world and who joined his celebrated countryman in an early Wimbledon exit, said on Monday that the excitement of having Federer back after a nine-year absence can only help the clay court tournament in one of Europe's most elite Alpine villages.
"It's all good for Swiss tennis," said the 2005 finalist. "It should be a great week."
So great was the extra demand for tickets that 800 seats had to be added to the grandstand on the main court laid over the communal ice rink in the centre of a village whose part-time residents include Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, French rocker Johnny Hallyday and film director Roman Polanski.
Federer, Wawrinka, third seed Janko Tipsarevia and number four Juan Monaco all received byes into the second round, with Wawrinka due to face the winner of the match between France's Kenny de Schepper and Spain's Daniel Gimono-Travers.
The Swiss leaped in tandem with an instructor from 5,000 metres in a 50-second parachute experience over the Alps.
"You could not dream of a better landscape," he said.
"I was a bit nervous flying up, but I did enjoy the moment."
In opening-day play, Federer's conqueror in the Wimbledon second round, Sergiy Stakhovsky, was the first of the week to fall, bowing to Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.
The result leaves the Ukrainian with four straight defeats since stunning Federer at the All England club on June 28th.
Wawrinka is concentrating on his chances of breaking his title duck in Switzerland.
"I'm hoping to finally win here, it will be the tenth time." he said.
"It's always great to play at home, but the clay at altitude (800 metres) is totally different.
"The ball always flies here and it's tough to get a rhythm," Wawrinka said.
"You can't compare this to many other events," he said.
"It's just incredibly tough to play on this clay.
"And after this, there is the switch to hardcourt before the US Open."
Wawrinka, finalist at the Madrid Masters and on grass in the Netherlands the week prior to Wimbledon, lost in his opening Gstaad match a year ago to France's Paul-Henri Mathieu.
He is determined not to repeat that scenario.
"I'm having a good season, I want to become a regular part of the top 10," said Wawrinka.
Federer's opening second-round match has already been scheduled, with the Swiss drawcard taking to the court on Thursday afternoon against either German Daniel Brands or long-time friend Marco Chiudinelli.