Stan Wawrinka, 38, reveals he met Roger Federer for the first time when he was 16 and described the older Swiss as "a big brother in tennis" and someone who is "a very important part of my career." 22 years ago, Wawrinka was invited to be Federer's sparring partner.
At the time, Wawrinka was 16 while Federer was 20. "Yes, yes, I remember. I was 16 years old. I went to the Swiss National Tennis Centre in Biel. I was his sparring partner. I can guarantee that I was very, very nervous. He was not number one in the world yet, but he was already at the top, I think he was top 15.
He was already super good. And I was super tense. I remember that I got tired after 30 seconds of training, because he was too agitated, he was not breathing normally. But I really enjoyed it. I always wanted to do my best against Roger.
I didn't want to miss anything I saw," Wawrinka told La Nacion.
Wawrinka on how Federer impacted his career
Wawrinka achieved some pretty great things for Swiss tennis as he is a three-time Grand Slam champion and a former world No 3.
But that's not anywhere near the heights that Federer achieved. Due to that, many felt that Wawrinka's success was overshadowed by Federer's presence. But Wawrinka insists Federer has only done good and positive things for his career.
"Roger represents so many things. He is a good friend. He has been like a big brother in tennis. When I got to the big circuit he was already at the top. He helped me in many things. I learned from him. I had a lot of tough losses against him.
We had many great victories together. Therefore, he is a very important part of my career. I'm thankful for that. I enjoyed the time touring with the big three, playing against them, even losing many times, but I learned from Roger and again, I'm grateful for that," Wawrinka said.