New York: Stan Wawrinka has won as many Grand Slam titles as Andy Murray, but even after capturing the US Open the 31-year-old insists his record does not bear comparison with tennis' 'Big Four'.
That exclusive club of Novak Djokovic, Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have won 42 of the last 47 Grand Slams.
The only men to break that stranglehold are Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic at the 2009 and 2014 US Open tournaments respectively...and Wawrinka.
The unassuming Swiss has won all three major finals in which he has appeared — the 2014 Australian Open, the 2015 French Open and now the 2016 US Open, secured with a four-set win over Djokovic on Sunday.
Djokovic believes world number three Wawrinka should be treated as a genuine heavyweight of the men's game.
"He deserves to be in the mix, no doubt about it. Stan has won three Grand Slams now and three different ones; Olympic medal," said the Serb.
"Been around for so many years, and he plays best in the big matches. I mean, he definitely deserves to be mentioned in the mix of top players."
But Wawrinka says he's happy with his status in the sport and that talk of a 'Big Five' does not stack up.
"Novak is always so nice with me. I love him. He's a good friend. He always say a lot of nice thing about me," said Wawrinka.
"The Big Four, I'm really far from them. Just look at the tournaments they have won, how many years they've been there.
"If you look, yes, I have three Grand Slams. How many Masters 1000 has Murray? They have been there since ten years.
"They have not only been winning, but being in semi-finals, final every time. That's why I'm not there. I don't want to be there. For me, there is no question about that."
Wawrinka may be right to be reluctant to class himself in the elite if the cold facts and figures are any guide at all.
He has three majors but only one Masters amongst his 15 career tiles.
Murray has 12 Masters, three Slams and 39 trophies in total.
World number one Djokovic has 12 majors and 66 career titles, Federer has 17 majors and 69 titles altogether while Nadal owns 14 Grand Slams and 69 singles trophies in all.
With the exception of Federer, the other three are younger than Wawrinka.
His conservatism is also reflected in his head-to-heads with his contemporaries.
Against Djokovic, he trails 5-19; with Murray he is 7-9 down, Federer leads their clashes 18-3 while Nadal is 15-3.
Wawrinka, the oldest US Open champion since 35-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1970, won his first Grand Slam at the age of 28 in Australia.
His late blossoming means that he is also not thinking about becoming world number one any time soon.
"It's simple. I'm way too far to even think about being number one. Look at Novak (he) is number one. He's winning two or three Grand Slams a year. He's winning five Masters 1000 minimum," explained Wawrinka.
"He's winning everything or being in the final. I'm winning fours tournaments a year. I'm happy with that."
Published Date: Sep 12, 2016 01:00 pm | Updated Date: Sep 12, 2016 01:00 pm