Veteran Swiss star Stan Wawrinka turned the tables on in-form Russian Andrey Rublev to progress to the quarterfinals of the Rolex Paris Masters on Friday.
A three-time Grand Slam champion, Wawrinka recovered from the opening set loss to post a fighting comeback win. The 5th-ranked Russian, who has carried his title-winning form at the Erste Bank Open (Vienna) into Paris, swept the opening set 6-1, with Wawrinka seemingly struggling to match up to his superior court coverage and shot-making.
Known to rise from dire straits and script glorious comebacks, Wawrinka staged a remarkable fightback to take the next couple sets and book his passage to the last-eight.
Spanning 1 hour and 43 minutes, the match ebbed and flowed before Wawrinka finally closed it out with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 win.
Sharing his thoughts on the comeback win at the post-match press conference, Wawrinka said, “I think, of course, at the beginning, he was playing faster than me, was playing better than me. It was tough for me to really find any solution when he’s playing that well.”
On how he kept his spirits up despite going down tamely in the first set, Wawrinka, also known as the ‘Stan Man’, said, “I was still believing that I could change something in my game and play a little bit better.”
The result is being seen as an upset as Rublev had a good head of winning momentum going into the tie and with Wawrinka still searching for his best form this season, the Russian was expected to waltz through to the quarterfinals.
However, Wawrinka found his bearings after being routed in the opening set, raising his first-serve percentage from 69% to 78% on the way to a fabulous come-from-behind win.
“I didn’t start great and he took the confidence from me also,” Wawrinka reflected on his opening-set loss. “I think for me it was important to really focus on my serve. I started to serve better, to mix more, to get more free points, to start to push him a little bit more, put him on defense a little bit. That’s when I knew I will have some occasion to break him. I am really happy with the victory.”