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At the Net: Stan is the man

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Maybe, just maybe, Stan Wawrinka is the best Swiss tennis player in the world right now.

For those of you who thought Roger Federer would reclaim his position as the top Swiss racquet man, you might have to rethink that notion following the latest all-Swiss court clash.

Last week in Monte Carlo, neither current nor former world No. 1 greats Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Federer were able to run the table at that prestigious clay court event. Rather, it was "Stan the Man" coming out on top for his second huge title of the season and first career Masters 1000 shield.

Wawrinka (a Polish surname that is pronounced va-VINK-ah) opened his year with a hardcourt title in India and hasn't slowed down a whole lot since.

He followed up the India win with his first-ever Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open, where he basically shocked an injured Nadal in the final. Stan also beat the likes of Djokovic and Tomas Berdych in Melbourne en route to reaching a career-high No. 3 spot in the world rankings.

Wawrinka let everyone know he was about to become a force on tour by landing in his first-ever Grand Slam semi at last year's U.S. Open. He then went on to reach the semis at the elite-only season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London, where he ultimately lost to the six-time major champion Djokovic. It was also Djokovic who got him in the U.S. Open final four in a tough, tough five-setter.

Did I mention that Wawrinka also appeared in his first-ever French Open quarterfinal last season?

Note: Wawrinka was the French Open junior champion in 2003.

The 29-year-old star is already 20-3 this season, which he opened with a torrid 13-match winning streak. He's also 2-1 in his Davis Cup singles matches, as he and his good friend Federer have Switzerland in the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time in 11 years.

Last week in Monte Carlo, Wawrinka straight-setted 2013 French Open runner-up David Ferrer in the semis before fighting back to outlast the 17-time Grand Slam king Federer in a quality three-setter in a rare all-Swiss finale.

Obviously, Wawrinka would love to reach No. 1, but he still has the 13-time major titlist Nadal (13,310 points) and Djokovic (11,040) ahead of him (6,580) by a wide margin.

For the record, Federer is currently fourth in the world, only 995 points behind Stan.

You'd have to consider Wawrinka a late bloomer, considering his best-ever career results didn't start to come until he was in his late 20s. His first career title came in Umag, Croatia, back in 2006, and he'd only tallied three more ATP titles since then, prior to this season.

The Lausanne native already boasts three titles in 2014, highlighted by the Grand Slam and Masters ones, of course.

Also for the record, Wawrinka has reached at least the quarterfinals at three of the last four majors and at least the semis at the last two. This from a player who failed to get past the fourth round at the first 19 Grand Slam events of his career.

But now Wawrinka is living high on the hog: No. 3 in the world; the most- recent Grand Slam champion; and over $12 million in career prize money, including a tour-best $3.322 million this year. And, of course, he has plenty of endorsement dough rolling in from the likes of Yonex, Subaru and Audi.

Wawrinka, he of arguably the sweetest/fiercest one-handed backhand in the business, can attribute much of his recent success to his current coach, former world No. 2 star and former French Open runner-up Magnus Norman, a Swede who has helped Stan give tiny Switzerland half of the top-four players in the world right now.

Under Norman's tutelage, Wawrinka ended a long 12-match losing streak against Nadal (1-12), as well as a 14-match skid at the hands of Djokovic, who is still 15-3 in their lifetime series, but the Swiss slugger is the most-recent winner, following a massive five-set win in January's Aussie quarters.

Did You Know?: Wawrinka paired with Federer to capture the men's doubles gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing.

And Wawrinka also is now the most-recent winner in his lifetime series (2-13) with Federer, who had won their previous 11 bouts.

Can you say confidence?

I know Stan can.

What I don't know is if Wawrinka can climb all the way to No. 1 ... but he's certainly been playing like one.