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Tennis Baby Seeks More Feedback

Stan Wawrinka and Holger Rune shake hands at Indian Wells
Harry How/Getty Images

It's always poignant to see a veteran convey elder wisdom to the next generation. The first time Stan Wawrinka and Holger Rune met on tour, the 37-year-old triple-major champ offered subtle tactical advice to the 19-year-old during their post-match handshake: "My advice to you is that you stop acting like a baby on court. OK?"

Rune beat Wawrinka in that three-setter in November and would go on to win the title in Paris by going punch-for-punch with Novak Djokovic. If Rune was a baby emotionally—and there appears to be a body of evidence for that case—he was rather advanced technically.

Fast-forward four months and Rune is the No. 8 in the world, while Wawrinka is No. 100, grinding out some fine matches in his twilight years. The two met again Monday afternoon in the third round of Indian Wells, a rollicking beef-fueled affair. Midway through the second set, Rune seemed to be struggling with his shoulder and called for the physio. Wawrinka invited the chair ump to hit a few balls while he was waiting; the ump declined. Wawrinka squandered a big second-set tiebreak lead but held steady in the topsy-turvy third set to win 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5. It was Stan's best win in months, and his first over a top-20 player since last October.

Afterward at the net, the two picked up where they'd left off. Rune was hoping for more sage advice. "You've got nothing to say now?" he asked. "Huh?" said Wawrinka. Rune repeated his question. "What do you want me to say?" Wawrinka replied.

What to do when fruitful in-person conversation is out of reach? Rune lashed out at GIF-reply guys and called on the tour to help combat his online haters.

He has unintentionally supplied himself the most useful career advice of all: Log off, sir!

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