Now that the magnitude of his Australian Open triumph has sunk in, Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka is aiming to build on his first Grand Slam triumph. The unassuming Swiss, playing his first tournament since he beat Rafael Nadal in the final at Melbourne in January, is the third seed in the ATP Masters tournament in the California desert.
He put a toe back in the water on Friday by teaming with compatriot Roger Federer in a 6-2, 6-7 (4/7) 10-6 first-round doubles win over sixth seeds Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, who lifted the doubles title in Dubai last week. "I feel great," said Wawrinka, who helped Switzerland into the Davis Cup quarter-finals shortly after his Australian Open triumph but then withdrew from the ATP tournament in Rotterdam saying his legs weren't up to it.
"I was home after Davis Cup for three-and-a-half weeks, but since I'm here practising ... I'm really happy," he said.
"I'm not sure if I can win a Grand Slam again. For sure it's going to be really, really difficult. I know I did it already. I know that I can reach that level, but it's going to be tough.
"I need to be ready every match to try to win every match. We will see how the season will go."
Wawrinka, who upset three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in the Aussie Open quarter-finals, admitted the jubilant reaction in Switzerland to his achievement took him by surprise, but his time off helped him find his feet. "It took me time to realize really what I did in Australian Open," he said. "Still when I'm saying that I won a Grand Slam it's still strange for me, but that's why it was good to be home during three weeks. It was good to be with the family, to take more time for myself."
Federer and Wawrinka, who won the 2008 Beijing Olympics doubles gold medal for Switzerland, reached the 2011 Indian Wells doubles final. However, they hadn't teamed up since a Davis Cup tie versus The Netherlands in September 2012.
Federer said the back pain he struggled with last year made him reluctant to play doubles. With that problem apparently solved, however "it's just nice to team up sometimes."
The pair could find themselves facing each other across the net in the singles quarter-finals. Federer, the seventh seed, will play France's Paul-Henri Mathieu in the second round while Wawrinka will face Croatian veteran Ivo Karlovic on Saturday, when the men's seeds begin second-round play after first-round byes.
"I think my level is really good and physically I'm ready," Wawrinka said. "So I'm really looking forward for my match tomorrow and for the rest of the season, because it's just the beginning."