NEW YORK (AP) — Roger Federer is the superhero and Stan Wawrinka, usually, is his bumbling, simple sidekick. Novak Djokovic always lurks in the background as the Joker.
Such is the comic strip @SwissMinipeople, which turns sports and political figures into, well, cartoon characters, and seems to ramp up whenever a Grand Slam tournament is in full swing.
A recent panel showed a rosy-cheeked Stan Wawrinka dumping a bucket of water over his head after his recent fourth-round U.S. Open victory. Commentator John McEnroe asks, "Another ice bucket challenge?" Replies Wawrinka: "No, I just got very, very hot."
Another cartoon showed Mount Rushmore, with the busts of four U.S. presidents joined by another of a headbanded Federer. A tourist asks: "And the others? How many Grand Slams have they won?"
The strip, written mostly in French, began appearing in 2011 in a Swiss magazine and now exists mainly on social media.
Cartoonist Christophe Bertschy admits he started out making Wawrinka a "shy, guy-next-door" sidekick to the mighty Federer but that began to change last year when Federer was upset in the U.S. Open and Wawrinka reached the semifinals.
A cartoon then showed Roger Federer as a superhero in tights fleeing New York under a barrage of tennis balls. "Luckily, a new superhero is here to replace him," the strip reads. The next panel showed a Swiss-red armored hero: "Iron Stan!" The smiling Wawrinka character says: "No more laughing now."
The more heroic Iron Stan character returned after Wawrinka won the Australian Open, with one cartoon showing the player getting a new tattoo: "Victory."
"Apparently Stan liked them and kindly started to retweet my work," Bertschy said in an email exchange. "I'm not an expert in tennis, but he has already surpassed what I thought he was able to do. Who knows where he will stop?"
— By James Martinez, www.twitter.com/jfmartinez
MISSING SLEEVES: Even if Rafael Nadal had made it to the U.S. Open, his sleeves wouldn't have joined him.
The 14-time major champion put a note on his Facebook page Wednesday saying he had planned to wear a sleeveless T-shirt for his matches at Flushing Meadows. He also posted four photos showing him practicing in the tight top, biceps in full view.
Nadal wore sleeveless shirts earlier in his career, paired with his most famous fashion statement: capri pants. Based on the photos, those aren't yet making a comeback.
Nadal isn't defending his U.S. Open title because of a right wrist injury.
— By Rachel Cohen — www.twitter.com/RachelCohenAP
U.S. Open Scene follows tennis' hard-court Grand Slam tournament in New York as seen by journalists from The Associated Press. It will be updated throughout the day.