"...I still need a lot of time, play matches, keep trying to play week after week to find the confidence back", Stan Wawrinka had said when his play had failed him and he bowed at the first round of the Italian Open in May to Steve Johnson.
The Swiss had a rough 2018 season with nothing but see-saw performance levels. It was from the Australian Open where he lost in the 2nd round to Tennys Sandgren to losing a five-setter at Roland Garros with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Stan Wawrinka's tour has been rocky. He sat up in a hospital bed recuperating from knee surgery in August but rushed things a bit coming back and losing in the Japan Open the second round to the NextGen Denis Shapovalov.
Wawrinka's ever-present determination made him continue playing and he entered the Shanghai Rolex Masters opposite Croatia's Borna Coric. But it was too much for the Swiss as he lost form and consistency at the opener in three sets.
But Stan the Man pushed on and made it to the semifinals of the St. Petersburg Open to lost to Martin Klizan. Wawrinka's last attempt to end his season on an up note faltered when he had to withdraw from the Basel Open in Switzerland his home country land.
He started developing back ailments and not only withdrew from Basel but decided to say goodbye to the rest of the tour. "I wanted to just play a few tournaments to test the knee...I was positive to see the knee was doing ok.
But I knew that I needed a lot of time to work on my fitness", Wawrinka had explained. He has closed his 2018 season withdrawing from Basel, but will he be able to have good performances in 2019? It will be for sure he must adjust his scheduling of matches to his health.
Wawrinka's readjustment of next year's tour would have to, first of all, be fewer tournaments. The rigours of constant travelling and playing wouldn't be a good thing on his knee. Secondly, the type of tournaments might have to be clay court where the surface is kind to knee conditions or the grass season, but that's if the Swiss will get a wildcard for those specific events.
Another adjustment would be to his game directly. Long rallies wouldn't be good so great serving and shorter rallies, would be to Wawrinka's advantage as well as playing aggressive ending the point early. But his would depend on his opponent who may dictate the rhythm of the game better than the Swiss.
Stan Wawrinka's return would be welcomed by fans and the tennis community alike, but he'd have to be healthy enough to manipulate and adjust his game to be able to play throughout the busy, turbulent new season with this being the big question at hand.