Wawrinka Comeback Picks Up In Sofia

No one ever said coming back from knee surgery would be easy, but Stan Wawrinka knows he’s moving in the right direction.
After shutting down what had been a successful 2017 season due to a knee injury, which would ultimately require surgery and months of rehabilitation, Wawrinka made his return to competition at the Australian Open, winning one round before succumbing to Tennys Sandgren in the second. With his feet back on the ground – both literally and figuratively – the Swiss heads to the DIEMA XTRA Sofia Open in search of his next step.
“I am feeling much better. Since the first day I came back from Australia I was working really hard physically and also for my tennis. I am feeling better and better and starting to come back to my top level. I am happy with all the improvement I am making and I am happy to be back on the [ATP World] Tour,” said Wawrinka, a 16-time tour-level titlist. 
“For me it was really important mentally, but as well for my knee to see that everything is going to right direction,” the Swiss star added. “I knew I wasn’t ready to play at a good level and physically I was still far away from [where] I want to be. But it was important to test the knee, to see how it is reacting and also mentally to be a little bit back on the tour.”
The 32-year-old’s second tournament of the season sees him make his tournament debut in Sofia as the top seed following the withdrawal of Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov. Yet despite his seeding, Wawrinka maintains low expectations and is following the one-match-at-a-time tennis truism. 
“I always come into tournament to play my best tennis. [Winning the title] is not the goal you are putting in your head before a tournament. It is to be ready for the first match,” said the World No. 15. “I didn’t play for six months and I had only one tournament in Australia. So I think it isn’t easy. I know what I can do, I know what my level can be when I am playing good tennis. But first of all I am really happy to be back on the tour and to come to Sofia for the first time.” 
Former champions of the DIEMA XTRA Sofia Open, currently in its third edition, include home-favourite Dimitrov, who played a role in Wawrinka’s attendance at the ATP World Tour 250 event this week.
“I have never been in Bulgaria. [It’s] my first time,” said Wawrinka. “That’s why I am really excited. I’ve heard really good things… especially [now that] there is a tournament. We talked last year a little bit with Grigor about this. So I am excited to see your country.”
Sightseeing might be one of Wawrinka’s off-court goals this week, but as for on the court – the goal remains a simple one.
“My main goal is to come back at my top level physically and tennis-wise,” said Wawrinka. “I know it was really tough to be out for six months. Big surgeries take time to come back. So that is my first goal. When I feel ready with everything than I will try to see what more I can achieve.”
Source: ATP World Tour

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