By Erik Gudris / Monday, November 4, 2013
Stanislas Wawrinka made a winning debut in London while Juan Martin del Potro punched past Richard Gasquet at the ATP World Tour Finals.
Photo Credit: AP
It may not have been his best performance, but Stanislas Wawrinka will take his opening match win against Tomas Berdych at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London on Monday.
Making his debut at the season-ending event, the Swiss No. 2 benefitted from Berdych not being on top of his game from the outset. Playing passive tennis, Berdych struck only three winners while his go-to big serve was nowhere to be found, with the Czech serving at just 39 percent. Wawrinka, serving up 5-3, fought off some nerves himself.
After needing five set points, Wawrinka finally closed out the set 6-3 with help from a Berdych return error.
Yet Berdych got things going in the second set. The Czech looked ready to make his move when he held 0-40 on Wawrinka's serve at 3-4. But Wawrinka responded with a vengeance by striking two aces before he won the game with a perfect crosscourt backhand winner to level the set at 4-all.
Soon a tiebreak was needed, but it was Wawrinka who fell behind early with several untimely errors. Berdych took command and did not drop a point en route to a 7-6(0) set.
Serving became key for both men in the final set with Berdych fighting off an early break point. With Wawrinka winning most of his second serve points while Berdych lost most of his, the disparity tipped things in Wawrinka's favor. Taking advantage with a break of serve, Wawrinka soon soared to a 4-1 lead.
Once again, Wawrinka served for the set, and now the match, at 5-3. But he didn't falter as Wawrinka closed out the 6-3, 6-7(0), 6-3 win that marked the 50th victory of the season for the Swiss.
Wawrinka now leads Group A while Berdych now drops his fourth straight opening round match during the year-end event.
Del Potro Scratches Out Win as Murray Tweets Commentary
Few thought that France's Richard Gasquet would have much of a chance against Juan Martin del Potro in their opening match Monday evening. Especially given del Potro holding a 5-1 head to head record against the Frenchman.
One of the few who thought Gasquet had a shot was UK's own Andy Murray, who offered his own thoughts on Twitter during the match.
Murray looked smarter than the pundits early on when Gasquet held his own against del Potro early in the first set. Despite being broken when serving for the set up 5-3, the Frenchman produced a slew of winners in the subsequent tiebreak to take the set 7-6(4).
But Gasquet's level dropped early on in the second set as del Potro's own form began to rise. A netted backhand from Gasquet mid-rally allowed del Potro to take a 3-1 lead. From there the Argentine soon closed out the set 6-3 to force a decider.
Murray again shared his thoughts on Twitter.
Del Potro, helped by bigger hitting from both wings, looked in control for most of the final set. But the momentum shifted again when del Potro, serving for the match at 5-4, produced multiple errors to allow himself to be broken at love for 5-all.
Gasquet couldn't keep up his side of things though when he himself was broken back for 6-5. Del Potro soon set up two match points in the final game.
Gasquet netted a return and that prompted a roar of approval from del Potro after claiming the hard fought 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-5 win. Del Potro now leads Group B.
Murray closed the evening with his thoughts on the match.
In opening doubles action from the 02 Arena, the all-Polish team of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski defeated fifth seeds Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-3, 7-6(8).
David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco beat third seeds and defending champions Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 6-1, 6-4.