‘To be No.2 to Roger Federer there was a lot of pressure on Stan, but he came through beautifully’ – says Laureus Academy Member Martina Navratilova
‘Can anyone catch Roger Federer’s record total of 17 career Grand Slams? I wouldn’t put my money on it’ – says Martina
Laureus World Sports Awards to be held in Shanghai on April 15
Laureus World Sports Academy Member and tennis legend Martina Navratilova has praised the role of Stan Wawrinka in Switzerland’s first ever success in the Davis Cup, a feat which has seen the two-man combination of Wawrinka and Roger Federer nominated for the Laureus World Team of the Year AND Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Awards.
While Federer has been seen as the pivotal element in the Swiss success, in an exclusive interview with Laureus.com, Martina said Wawrinka’s part in the triumph should not be underestimated. “To be number two to Roger – where obviously if they don’t win the Davis Cup, it will be Stan’s fault, not Roger’s – puts a lot of pressure on Stan, but he came through beautifully.
“It was all set up by Stan winning the  Australian Open. That gave him confidence for the rest of his career to know that when things are going his way, anything can happen, and I think it pulled him through in the Davis Cup, too, because he had to be so nervous. I know I would have been in that situation.
“I think Roger did it probably more for Stan and for his country than for himself. The Davis Cup was never that high on his list of priorities, but again he never had anyone that he could really win it with. Once he committed with Stan, playing the kind of tennis that he played, the writing was on the wall. So, a great achievement,” she added.
The Swiss Davis Cup Team has been nominated for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award along with the German World Cup winning team, Real Madrid, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team, San Antonio Spurs and the European Ryder Cup team. Their rivals for Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year are World Cup footballers Mario Götze and James Rodriguez, Olympic skier Mikaela Shiffrin, Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo and US Open tennis champion Marin Cilic. The winners of the Laureus World Sports Awards will be announced in Shanghai on April 15.
Martina was also asked if she thought Roger Federer, now 33, could win another Grand Slam to add to his career record total of 17, and if she thought that record would ever be broken.
Martina, who herself won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, said: “I always thought that Roger’s got chances at Wimbledon. That surface suits his game better than anything. He came within one set, within maybe a couple points of winning it last year. Things need to work out a little bit for Roger as far as the draw is concerned. But he is still capable of winning every single match he plays. So if he stays healthy, that’s the biggest concern, definitely it’s possible.
“Rafa [Nadal] is at 14, so he’s not that far behind. In maybe five years we’ll be talking about Novak Djokovic, the way he’s going at it. But Roger hit a pretty sweet spot in the mid-2000s. He was pretty greedy there for a few years. So it’s possible someone might catch him, but not probable. I would not put my money on it. I think 17 is a pretty tall order.”
Would that make him the greatest men’s player of all time? Martina said: “It’s hard to argue with that, but it’s also hard to argue that Rod Laver wasn’t the greatest of all time or Pete Sampras wasn’t the greatest of all time. When you compare generations, different eras, different equipment, different situations, it’s really hard to say.
“I think whenever we are in the moment, we want to say he’s the greatest of all time because we want to be part of it and the next generation will be claiming somebody of their own, just like the generation before [will want] Pete Sampras and before that Rod Laver.
“I think Roger would be happy just to be in that same group. I doubt very much that Roger would put himself above Rod Laver,” added Martina.