Tokyo: Swiss tennis maestro Stan Wawrinka advanced to the second round of the ongoing Japan Open after defeating America’s Taylor Fritz in men’s singles event here on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old registered a thumping 6-3, 6-4 victory over his American opponent in their first-round clash of the tournament.
The in-form world number 60, Fritz looked helpless against an experienced Wawrinka as the Swiss put it across quickly against his US rival.
The first set was fairly one-sided with Wawrinka dominating the proceedings, trying to prove a point. He moved across the court quickly making fast-paced returns that Fritz could not comprehend. In the following set, Fritz tried to stage a comeback with some exquisite shots but Wawrinka thwarted his attempts, sealing the set and the game.
The draw, which is particularly not kind to Wawrinka, will test his mettle throughout the tournament. Denis Shapovalov awaits him in the second round and the quarterfinals would likely hold a clash with top seed Marin Cilic or perhaps Dzumhur.
Wawrinka was earlier on a five-match winning streak in Tokyo, having won the 500-level title in his last appearance in 2015 when he defeated Benoit Paire in the final.
The Swiss player did not return to defend his title in 2016 and was unable to feature in 2017 and missed the last six months of the season due to multiple knee surgeries.
Wawrinka’s comeback has been a halting affair, with the Swiss player plummeting to world number 261.
The three-time Grand Slam champion, however, finally got his ranking moving in the right direction. A win over Grigor Dimitrov at Wimbledon saw him back inside the top 200, and a pretty strong showing on American hard courts helped him break back into the top 100.
A good run at the 500-level Rakuten Japan open would go a long way towards lifting his rankings.