Wawrinka's strengths come to the fore at Australian Open

Stan Wawrinka says his forehand has improved under the guidance of his coach Magnus Norman.
Stan Wawrinka says his forehand has improved under the guidance of his coach Magnus Norman. Reuters/Jason Reed

A day after his illustrious Swiss compatriot Roger Federer registered his 300th victory at a grand slam tournament, Stan Wawrinka chalked up a personal milestone by winning his 400th match on the men's tour.


The 2014 Australian Open champion saw off the unseeded Czech Lukas Rosol 6-2 6-3 7-6 to set up a last 16 meeting with the 13th seeded Canadian Milos Raonic.

Wawrinka, the fourth seed, famously beat defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-final and Rafael Nadal in the final to claim his first grand slam two years ago. Last June he came from a set down to take the French Open crown at he expense of Djokovic.

That victory in Paris was clinched with a trademark back hand down the line. The stroke is one of the most vaunted in modern tennis. But following his win over Rosol, 30-year-old Wawrinka said that he is following the advice of his coach Magnus Norman and starting to place more faith in his forehand at crucial moments of a game.

"For sure it's been a key for those big matches that I won," said Wawrinka. "In the past I was struggling on the important points with my forehand. Now I don't anymore. Now I trust my forehand, that's for sure."

Both wings will face a stern examination when he meets Raonic, who emerged from his third round tie against the unseeded Serb Victor Troicki in straight sets.

"He's tough player," added Wawrinka. "I've played him four times and have never lost but they've always been tough matches."

Gael Monfils won the all-French third round clash. He saw off Stephane Robert 7-5 6-3 6-2. David Ferrer, the eighth seeded Spaniard continued to the last 16 courtesy of a straight sets win over the unseeded American Steve Johnson.

Last year's beaten finalist Andy Murray was taken to four sets by Portugal's Jaoao Sousa while Andrey Kuznetsov reached the last 16 of a grand slam for the first time. The 24-year-old Russian got past Dudi Sela in four sets to set up a meeting with Monfils.

"It will be tougher than people think," said Monfils of the impending showdown. "Kuznetsov hits well from both sides and has improved a lot recently."

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