Opelka Hangs Tough To Edge Wawrinka At Wimbledon; Now Plays Raonic
Tournament debutant to play 2016 finalist Raonic
The American, who is making his debut this week at Wimbledon, recorded a 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 8-6 victory over No. 22 Wawrinka in three hours and 13 minutes on No. 2 Court.
Opelka, who saved one break point at 6-6, 30/40, struck 59 winners that included 23 aces, and won 20 of his 33 serve and volley points for a place in his first Grand Slam championship third round. Wawrinka committed 30 unforced errors, 21 of which came in the fourth and fifth sets.
“He got really comfortable and started hitting some really good returns,” said Opelka. “I had to adjust a lot. My mind was always thinking, especially after I lost the third set. I knew I had to make some adjustments quick to start, because he was in every return game… Today we went through a match where he had breakpoints, like, almost every game.
It was Opelka’s first five-set win (1-2) and Wawrinka was playing in his 49th five-setter (27-22), second among active players only behind his fellow Swiss Roger Federer (51). Wawrinka is now 1-5 lifetime in five-setters at Wimbledon, winning his first in the 2006 first round against Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic.
“You know you're not going to have a lot of chances to break," said Wawrinka. "But I think it was a tough match to lose, that's for sure. I had some chances. I start a little bit slow. I was hesitating a bit, not really moving well enough. I started to play way better, I had some chance in the fourth set… At the end he went for it. He went bigger than me and he deserve to win.”
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Wawrinka, who had employed Daniel Vallverdu to work alongside his regular coach Magnus Norman during the grass-court swing, is now 21-14 on the year that includes a run to last month’s Roland Garros quarter-finals (l. to Federer).
Raonic dominated on serve, hitting 32 aces, to beat Dutchman Robin Haase 7-6(1), 7-5, 7-6(4) in two hours and 33 minutes. It was the pair’s first meeting since October 2013 at the Rolex Paris Masters.
“Obviously, he's been a really good player on grass and he's done well, especially at Wimbledon," said Opelka. "Again, he's the favourite, he's had more experience here. [But it] just allows me to play free. You know, trust my game.”