Each week, Baseline will take a look at a player who has thrived at one of the stops on the ATP and WTA tours during their career.
After an absence of more than two decades, the Geneva Open returned to the ATP calendar in 2015, with the field led by hometown hero Stan Wawrinka. Though he fell in the quarterfinals, the Swiss rebounded from that short run to win his second career Grand Slam title at the French Open.
Wawrinka suffered early-round losses in 2018 and ’19, but in between all those defeats at the tournament was a two-year stretch where everything fell perfectly into place.
After starting 2016 with victories in two of his first four tournaments of the year on hard courts, the Swiss hit a rough patch at the Masters events in Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami with losses before the quarterfinals in both. Playing the three Masters tournaments on clay, Wawrinka compiled a 3-4 record between them as his run of poor form continued.
Returning to Geneva right before the start of his title defense at the French Open, the top seed won his first two matches comfortably to reach the semifinals for the first time. He was pushed to three sets in the penultimate round before winning through to the final. In the championship match, he faced Marin Cilic, the third seed whom he had a commanding 9-2 lead against. Wawrinka stretched that to 10 wins with a straight-sets victory to clinch his third title of the year.
He's 10-3 in Geneva, having won two titles in five career appearances. The only other title he's won more than once is Chennai, where he has three trophies.
Wawrinka would go on to add a fourth tournament triumph later on in the year at the US Open. After his win in New York, though, he had his 11-match streak in finals snapped in St. Petersburg, Russia, then dropped his next title-round appearance in Indian Wells in 2017. He lost early in Miami, then once again struggled at the clay Masters events, posting a 2-3 record this time.
Entering Geneva as the top seed once again, Wawrinka was pushed to the brink in the quarterfinals but battled through, then had a comfortable match in the semifinals to set up a title bout against Mischa Zverev. The German, usually at his best on faster surfaces, surprisingly took the first set but was unable to keep up with the three-time Grand Slam champion who came back to win his first title of the year.
While it might not be common practice for a true major contender to play the week before the start of a Grand Slam, Wawrinka managed to parlay his title-winning runs in Geneva to successful stretches in Paris: reaching the semifinals in 2016 and the final in ’17.