Stan Wawrinka’s Wonderful Rotterdam Run Reviewed

Wawrinka

Photo courtesy of www.blick.ch

Stan Wawrinka won the ATP 500 Rotterdam Open last Sunday in his first appearance at the event in ten years. The Tennis Review looks back at a wonderful week in Rotterdam for Wawrinka.

Pre-tournament: Wawrinka, ranked 8th, was the fourth seed behind Andy Murray (1), Milos Raonic (2) and Tomas Berdych (4). The Swiss had gotten himself back into top ten form after slumping from the Italian Open to the London World Tour Finals last season. A semi-final finish at the London WTFs, a title in Chennai and a run to the Australian Open semi-finals where he lost to eventual champion Novak Djokovic suggested Wawrinka’s talents, which thrive on fast surfaces like the indoor Rotterdam courts, were ready to earn him his ninth ATP Tour title. He also had a favorable record against the top three seeds, going 10-5 against Berdych, beating Murray in straight sets in their last two matches, and leading Raonic 3-0. But while the Swiss may have looked a likely champion in the making, it did not look like that in the early rounds.

Round of 32: d. Huta Galung 6-3, 3-6, 6-3

The 2014 Australian Open champion seemed to have an easy enough first found against Holland’s Jesse Huta Galung, ranked 248 in the ATP rankings. The Swiss won the first set but dropped the second 3-6 to a player aged 30, with a 9-31 win-loss ATP record, and who reached a career high ranking of 91 last season. Wawrinka regrouped to save himself from another loss to a player ranked outside the top 100 in the last six months (he lost to 103rd ranked Tatsuma Ito in Tokyo last Autumn).

Round of 16: d. Garcia-Lopez 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-2

Wawrinka’s 2014 slump really hit its stride when he fell to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the first round of the French Open, a month after winning his first ATP 1000 title in Monte Carlo, beating Federer in the final. Wawrinka avenged that loss at this season’s Australian Open and then inflicted another defeat on Lopez in Rotterdam for good measure. Again, it looked like another early loss might come Wawrinka’s way, but he came back from losing the first set on a breaker to take the final two sets for the loss of just six games.

Quarter-finals: d. Muller 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Wawrinka’s last eight opponent Gilles Muller had reached the Australian Open last sixteen as an unseeded player and had beaten Grigor Dimitrov coming into his quarter final match with Wawrinka. The Swiss paid him the respect he deserved, knuckled down and got the match won in straight sets. Wawrinka won the match on his second serve, winning 82 % of points behind that delivery and also on his return, winning 13 of 20 points on Muller’s second serve.

Semi-finals: d. Raonic 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7).

Wawrinka was outserved and outreturned in his match against Milos Raonic, having to save six break points compared to the one break point he held on the Raonic serve. However, the Swiss won the points that mattered, edging Raonic in two tiebreaks.

Final: d. Berdych 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Wawrinka had beaten Tomas Berdych, the defending champion in Rotterdam, in their last five matches, and there was some controversy between the two after their 2014 Australian Open semi-final match, a tight four set encounter that could have gone either way, when Wawrinka commented on Berdych’s big match mental fragility.

The Czech, who has been playing well in 2015, looked like he might prove Wawrinka wrong about his big match mental toughness when he won the first set, but Wawrinka’s superior first serve stats – 77 % to Berdych’s 69- and all court play made the difference as the Swiss took the title in three sets.

Wawrinka

Photo courtesy of www1.skysports.com

What the title means: For Wawrinka, the win earned him 500 ranking points and moved him up from eighth to seventh in the rankings.

It also gives him confidence, much needed after his 2014 slump and in the relatively early stages of his return to form, as he is now 13-1 for the year and has won two titles. He has also reached at least the semi-finals of his last four events (London WTF, Chennai, Australian Open, Rotterdam) as well as winning the Davis Cup.

The win may just be the final push to get Wawrinka back into some continued consistent form, and with the ATP 1000 North American swing not far away some more wonderful Wawrinka runs may not be too far away, either.

Watch Wawrinka’s hot shot in the video below.

Commentary by Christian Deverille

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