Stanimal or Stan the man as he is known as on tour did not win a title in 2019. However, it was a successful season for Stan who was on the comeback after persistent left knee problems that required surgeries in 2017. He made two tournament finals at Rotterdam and Antwerp and recorded an impressive win against Djokovic in the fourth round of the US Open (5th time in last six grand slams meetings against him). Stan also reached the quarter-final at Roland Garros for the 5th time. On route, he played possibly the best match of the season in a fourth-round victory over five hours against Tsistipas in five enthralling sets.
Stan, the man, has been a high-quality player for many years and his three majors are a testament to how well he can play when he is fit. I expect him to be a lock for top 20 in 2020.
Stan is a joy to watch, and the words I think of are beast, power, injury and the finger.
Beast: Stan is a physical beast. He could be a light heavyweight boxer. His less than flattering Yonex outfits hide his impressive greek god look but thanks to Stan’s liking for social media we can see how well his conditioning is. Stanimal is known on tour for his strength and endurance on the court, and he can produce power and speed even deep into a 5th set.
Power: Stan uses his substantial physique together with a superb technique to generate a tremendous force on his shots, particularly on his backhand.
Injury: Stanimal has experienced numerous injuries in recent years to his knees and back, which has seen him miss extended periods on tour.
The finger: This is when Stan either points to his head or his heart when engaged in a battle. It came to prominence during his win over Djokovic at the US Open in 2016. When winning significant points, he would do this to signify his mental fortitude.
Likes: Stan has an underrated serve, but I like its efficiency and speed. The backhand is a breathtaking canon, and he possesses a significant forehand as well.
Dislikes: As someone who enjoys watching him, I don’t particularly appreciate that he has experienced injury a lot. I feel Wawrinka pats serves back too often when he has the chance to be more aggressive.
Areas for improvement: Stan is well off the leaderboard on the quality of returns. Other than this Stanimal is a complete player as evidenced by three grand slam victories. He shares fitness guru Pagnini as his trainer with Federer, so considering his past injuries he should be staying after class with him as often as possible. Stan also needs to lift his game concerning his clothing. He should demand better from “daggy” Yonex or strike a deal elsewhere.