Stan Survives Evans Test In Indian Wells
Wawrinka overcame a dogged Daniel Evans in Friday's first round, needing two hours and nine minutes to prevail 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3. Fans were on their feet on Stadium 2 as the Swiss produced an impressive display to battle back from a set down. In what was an early candidate for match of the tournament, both competitors were dialed in from the baseline and refused to go down without a fight.
With his back against the wall at 2-2 0/40 in the deciding set, Wawrinka reeled off five straight points to hold and saved three more break chances at 3-all. And as Evans saw six break points come and go, his Swiss counterpart would immediately surge to a 5-3 lead and closed out the win with a hold to love.
"He's for sure a great player," said Wawrinka. "Also, this year he's playing a lot of matches and has a lot of confidence. He's won a lot of matches. He's always a tough player to play, for sure. You can see against other players. He always makes it difficult.
"I think he's mixing it a lot, especially in conditions like today when it's windy like that. With his slice, he feels the ball really well. He's mixing his game, serve-and-volleying, sometimes coming in, sometimes not, passing well. It's always difficult to play against him."
Wawrinka and Evans have produced a pair of thrillers in their two FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters, with the Swiss previously triumphing in five sets at the 2016 US Open. Runner-up in 2017 (l. to Federer), he now owns a 23-10 record at the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the year.
"I like the tournament," Wawrinka added. "I think in general the conditions are good for my game. A hard court and quite slow, I would say. You can really play your game. I think for me this year it's for sure special because I'm happy to be back."
Wawrinka, who missed the 2018 edition with a knee injury, will continue to push towards a Top 30 return when he faces 29th seed Marton Fucsovics in the second round on Sunday.
A potential third-round encounter against countryman Roger Federer looms large for Wawrinka. Five-time champion Federer will open his campaign against Peter Gojowczyk after the German defeated Andreas Seppi 7-5, 6-4, converting five of 11 break chances.
Earlier in the day, 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals contestant Hubert Hurkacz ousted American wild card Donald Young 6-3, 6-3 and Steve Johnson came through an all-American clash against Taylor Fritz by the same score. The battle of Southern California natives lasted exactly one hour.