Chennai Open: Wawrinka in third consecutive final

Two-time Grand Slam winner Wawrinka is seeking to get his name on the Chennai Open trophy for the fourth time in the $480,000 tournament, after earning victories in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

Stan Wawrinka had an easy outing against Frenchman Benoit Paire as he sailed into his fifth Chennai Open final.   -  R. Ragu

The better the opposition, the more intensity and focus in one’s body language may be expected. But evidently not with Stanislas Wawrinka, who strolled nonchalantly to his third consecutive Chennai Open final with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Benoit Paire. In his assessment after the match, he said he had to be at his best to defeat Paire. But he hardly seemed to break a sweat.

Stan’s service was better than Paire and he did just enough to capture two service breaks. During a phase, he even seemed to engage in some fun, in his attempts at some wacky points. After serving the match out with a competent serve, he gestured to his ear to a packed crowd to get their volume levels up.

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Leading 3-2 in the first set, after five service holds by the players, Paire decided to come into the net a number of times in his service game, perhaps to unsettle the Swiss. But Wawrinka negotiated those points well, and before long Paire was broken.

Brief letup

Paire had a look-in when Wawrinka decided to copy his tactics of coming to the net to finish off points, and was wayward and careless. Wawrinka, however, rectified matters at deuce, with two good serves, one off the second serve. Down 0-30 when serving for the set, Wawrinka repaired matters again with good serves.

With the momentum from the first set, he proceeded to the second, breaking Paire early with a surprise return of serve to the baseline. Up in the set 3-2, he faced a break point, the first and what turned out to be the only one for him. Yet again, he used his serve to deny Paire: this time, an ace, a forehand winner, and an effective serve did the job.

The penultimate game of the match, served by Paire, saw the players engage teasing each other with drop shots and lobs. Paire has been his doubles partner and the two were enjoying some moments. Paire got the better of the exchange, a consolation win, before Wawrinka served for the match, in a typically unruffled manner.

Happy to be in the final: Stan

“It’s never easy playing with him. He was serving well. I didn’t let my game down, I played at a good level. It’s always nice to share the best moments together,” Wawrinka said after the match. He attributed his win to the same elements of his game: that he served well, was aggressive, and kept his ‘level’ up throughout the match.

“It doesn’t matter whether I play [Borna] Coric or [Aljaz] Bedene tomorrow. It will be a different match and it’ll be a difficult one. I’m just happy to get into the final again.” In the quarter-finals, Coric defeated Roberto Bautista-Agut in straight sets on Friday, and Bedene came through a tough match against Ramkumar Ramanathan, who received praise from Wawrinka.

“Yesterday was a really close game for him (Ramkumar). He has a big forehand. He’s moving really well. Always fighting. If he can keep playing that well, he will improve his rankings this year.”

“The final will be tough tomorrow,” Wawrinka said, but it was difficult to believe him.