Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka challenges Novak Djokovic on Thursday in the knockout stages of the Rome Masters 1000.

Stan Wawrinka said playing against Novak Djokovic is always special, but he added that he might not be quite ready to face a player of the quality of the world number one after his return from a long injury.

The 37-year-old, who has not played for an entire year after undergoing two surgeries for a foot injury, got rid of Laslo Dere 7-6(8) 3-6 6-4 to face “Djoko” in the eighth final of Rome’s Masters 1000 on Thursday.

It’s not the best price, but it’s always special to play against him,” said the Swiss, who has won his last two matches against the Serbian.

“I’m not yet where I want to be with my game, fitness level, and mind. I need these games, so to have a chance to play against the best player, it will be very difficult for me, that’s for sure.”

Stan Wawrinka’s win over Reilly Opelka in Rome earlier this week was his first in 15 months, and the Swiss said he still has a long way to go before he gets back into full form.

“I’m not ready to compete at this level, but that’s what I need. I need these challenges. I need to push myself as much as I can to keep improving.

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