Winning Return: Copil Stuns Wawrinka In Sofia
Ebden books Bautista Agut clash
The 2018 runner-up (l. to Basic) rallied from a set down to beat Stan Wawrinka 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in one hour and 47 minutes, landing 11 aces to overcome the former World No. 3 for the first time in three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings. Copil, who did not drop a set en route to the 2018 championship match, will meet sixth seed Fernando Verdasco or Bulgarian qualifier Alexandar Lazarov for a quarter-final spot. The 28-year-old is yet to meet Verdasco or Lazarov at tour-level.
"It is a great win," said Copil. "I did not start the match well. I had some problems with my serve. But I somehow won the tie-break and was lucky to [earn] a break in the third set and [find] a big serve on match point... Last year, I served very well here in Sofia and I hope [I can] keep on doing it."
Last year's semi-finalist Wawrinka (l. to Basic) drops to 3-3 at tour-level this season, following his run to the Qatar ExxonMobil Open quarter-finals (l. to Bautista Agut) and a second-round loss to Milos Raonic at the Australian Open. Wawrinka will now travel to Rotterdam ahead of next week's ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament; the first ATP 500 event of the season.
"I think it was a really tough match," said Wawrinka. "I played really well in the first set. In the second set, I had some chances. He was a little bit better than in the beginning. I made a few mistakes and the same [happened] in the third set. He played well. Sometimes you lose tough matches. You need to keep practising [and] you need to keep fighting. Tonight, it was not my night."
Wawrinka looked secure on serve throughout the first set, winning four of his five service games to love to place pressure on his opponent. The 33-year-old Swiss secured the only break of serve in the sixth game, breaking to love with a driven cross-court backhand before clinching the set after just 23 minutes.
Both Copil and Wawrinka failed to convert multiple break-point chances early in the second set, with a tie-break required to decide the outcome of the set. At 5/5, Copil capitalised on a mistimed backhand from his opponent to earn set point, before forcing Wawrinka into a forehand error to level the match.
Copil soon earned his first service break of the match at 1-1 in the third set, capitalising on another loose backhand error from Wawrinka to take the lead for the first time. The Romanian held his nerve throughout the third set, converting his third match point with a powerful serve out wide to claim victory.
Matthew Ebden needed a final-set tie-break to join Copil in the second round. The World No. 45 defeated 17-year-old Bulgarian wild card Adrian Andreev 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(5) in two hours and 19 minutes to book a meeting with 2016 champion Roberto Bautista Agut.
Did You Know?
Copil earned the two biggest wins of his career to reach the Swiss Indoors final (l. to Federer) last year. Ranked No. 93 in the ATP Rankings, Copil defeated Top 10 players Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev en route to the championship match, becoming the lowest-ranked Basel finalist since No. 100 Patrick McEnroe in 1994.