Chennai Open: Wawrinka completes a hat-trick

What transpired on the court seemed fair: Coric’s competence was established with some considerable phases of stalemate in both sets, but it wasn’t enough to disturb Wawrinka’s equilibrium.

Stan Wawrinka (left) clinched his fourth Chennai Open title defeating 19-year-old Borna Coric.   -  S. R. Raghunathan

Where the need arose, ways were found. As smooth and unruffled Stanislas Wawrinka has been the entire tournament, he was in the final as well despite facing a tenacious opponent in Borna Coric. Eventually, he clinched his fourth Chennai Open title, as seemingly inevitable as it has ever been, after a contest taken via excellent serves, quick footwork and some awe-inspiring winners.

What transpired on the court seemed fair: Coric’s competence was established with some considerable phases of stalemate in both sets, but it wasn’t enough to disturb Wawrinka’s equilibrium. The World No. 4 did just enough to capture the required breaks in both sets and finish the match 6-3, 7-5.

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This occasion of Wawrinka’s cool display, warmed up to by a cheering crowd, climaxed to a pleasant surprise during the presentation ceremony. M. A. Alagappan, the president of Tamil Nadu Tennis Association, announced that the tournament, the contract of running of which had expired this year, will continue. So, at least for the next year, Chennai will hope to see the two stalwarts in today’s final participating next year as well.

Wawrinka, Coric indicated their participation for next year

Both players indicated an inclination to arrive in Chennai in 2017: while Wawrinka tactfully asked the crowd to apply pressure on tournament director Tom Annear to have him, Coric said he likes coming to the tournament as it serves as good preparation for him for the season ahead, away from the cold Croatia, where he comes from.

Coric, who was seen warming up in the cemented paths outside the court ahead of the match, has more than become accustomed to Chennai’s weather, and fought through to his first ATP final. Even today against a towering opponent, he wasn’t overawed, and gave a fair account of himself. A set had not been taken off Wawrinka the entire tournament, and only once had a break been stolen from him. But after Coric was broken to trail 2-4 in the first set, the players engaged in a long-drawn battle for the seventh game.

Coric repeatedly got the better of Wawrinka in the rallies, and Wawrinka himself made unforced errors and even-double faulted. There were as many as five break points gained by Coric in that game. But Wawrinka fell back on his serve to bail himself out; on the fifth break point, he smashed a forehand winner, served as ace, and coolly served and volleyed, to keep himself afloat.

Wawrinka was too good: Coric

As Coric himself conceded after the match, ‘(Wawrinka) was just too good.’ Having survived the examination, Wawrinka took very little time serving out the set, via good serves, including two aces.

The second set had the players steadily holding their own service games. In the second game of the set, a break point was saved by Coric, via the handy weapon of serve. A game later, Coric was 0-30 down, but he served well again to hold. Something special was needed for the deadlock to be broken, and Wawrinka provided it at a suitable time. During Coric’s service game at 5-5, he produced two typically sizzling backhand winners, and played a good point at the net, to break.

Serving for the match, Wawrinka nonchalantly served two aces, delivered another good serve to take a third point, and finished the match with a soft drop shot.

Wawrinka’s form certainly prompts the prediction of a third Grand Slam victory this year for him, but like a professional, he chose to stay in the present. “Let’s enjoy the trophy first,” he said. Regardless of his exploits in the ATP tennis circuit in the rest of the year, his time here has been fruitful, much for the tennis fans here and the tournament, as for his own self.

In the doubles’ final, Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin, the third seed in the tournament, defeated Austin Krajicek and Benoit Paire 6-3, 7-5.