Chennai Open: Cakewalk for Wawrinka

Rublev, who had defeated Somdev Devvarman with sharp strikes and an urgency to finish points, looked clueless against an opponent who had answers to everything he threw at him.

Stan Wawrinka will face either Ante Pavic or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the quarter-final.   -  K. V. Srinivasan

True to his form, the crowd favourite and the number one seed, Stan Wawrinka, waltzed through to the quarter-finals of the Chennai Open with a breezy, easy win over Andrey Rublev. The prospect of witnessing the quality of the Swiss prompted more people to fill in the stands than the first two days, and although short, the match was filled with the awe-inspiring expertise of Wawrinka in offense and defense.

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Rublev, who had defeated Somdev Devvarman with sharp strikes and an urgency to finish points, looked clueless against an opponent who had answers to everything he threw at him. The composed Wawrinka coolly took his opportunities to complete a 6-3, 6-2 win.

The contest was between the World No. 4 and a player ranked 176 places below him, but the point of intrigue was about ascertaining whether the underdog could manage any psychological victory. Rublev created his pace and looked to be asking questions, but Wawrinka played at his opponents pace for much of the time, and won with it.

Two points encapsulate the hold of the three-time Chennai Open champion over Rublev. When Rublev made Wawrinka stretch to one corner of the court to retrieve a ball, he looked to possess a clear advantage, but the defensive slice travelled to his baseline, and Wawrinka followed up with a typically strong one-handed backhand winner.

In an instance in the second set, Rublev had smashed the ball off a defensive lob but Wawrinka, under pressure, conjured a return so nicely that Rublev, standing at the net, could not finish the point off.

Wawrinka had, however, good things to say about the 18 year old.

“Despite being so young he is very good already, and he’s a big talent. He still has time to find his way to the top, but he has a big game.”

With Kevin Anderson out of the tournament with knee trouble, Wawrinka, already the favourite to clinch a hat-trick of titles, gets an even easier path. And whenever he has clinched the title, he has gone on to take a Grand Slam that year, too. But he was measured in his assessment.

“First, I’m only in the quarter-final. I need to think about the title only if I make the final. I look at who I’m going to play the next match.”

He indicated interest in the upcoming Olympics in Rio, but was not sure about which category he will participate in. Alongside his compatriot Roger Federer, he won the gold in the 2008 edition in Beijing.

“The Olympics are still far away, but they are very important to me. I still don’t know what I’m going to play, singles, doubles, or mixed doubles. Whenever the time comes, I’ll see.”

For now, his next aim will be to defeat either Ante Pavic, or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the quarter-final.

Tomorrow's order of play:

Singles:-

1. G. Muller vs T. Fabbiano.

2. B. Paire vs L. Rosol

3. R. Ramanathan vs A. Kudryatsev

4. A. Bedene vs L. Vanni

Doubles:-

1. Klaasen/Ram vs Rosol Zelenay

2. Marach/Martin vs Fyrstenberg/Gonzalez