Wawrinka Downs Raonic To Claim Rotterdam QF Spot
The 2015 champion, whose last win over Raonic came en route to his lone title in Rotterdam, won 91 per cent of first-serve points (30/33) and landed 27 winners. Last month, Raonic defeated Wawrinka in a four-hour epic en route to the Australian Open quarter-finals (l. to Pouille).
"Tonight was a really good level, that is for sure," said Wawrinka. "It is one of the matches I have played in many months now... So far I [played] two great matches, tonight was a great performance."
For his career, Wawrinka has won eight of his 10 matches - which includes three straight wins against Top 15 opposition - at the opening ATP 500 tournament of the season.
Wawrinka improved to 5-3 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Raonic and will next meet #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov. The left-hander dominated Czech Tomas Berdych, hitting 33 winners to Berdych's nine and advanced 6-4, 6-3. “I had a good rhythm on the strokes. I was really feeling good,” Shapovalov said.
The Canadian hit for an hour before his match, and the extra preparation paid off. Shapovalov won 77 per cent of the points that started on his racquet. The 19-year-old beat Wawrinka last October in Tokyo during their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter. "It's going to be a really tough match, but it's going to be fun," Shapovalov said.
Wawrinka started strongly, defending well and attacking Raonic's forehand to break for a 2-1 lead. The Swiss continued to impress throughout the set, striking 11 winners and dropping just two points behind his first serve (13/15) to move into a one-set lead after 45 minutes.
In a second set dominated by serve, Raonic grew in confidence to force Wawrinka into a tie-break. But the Swiss got off to the perfect start, firing a forehand passing shot past his opponent to earn the opening mini-break. Despite surrendering his advantage, Wawrinka continued to punish Raonic with power and accuracy on his backhand side before securing victory with a crosscourt forehand winner.
"I was moving way better and I was reacting better [than the past three matches against Milos]," said Wawrinka. "I was feeling great physically, so that is how I can start to engage the rally. [I was] returning better because I reacted better and that gave me way more chances to be aggressive.
"I was always trying not to give him too much time. [I was] trying to play aggressive with my game, to always dictate and put him under pressure. That is what I did well tonight."
Did You Know?
The second set marked the 11th time in eight FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings that Wawrinka and Raonic have contested a tie-break (Wawrinka leads 7-4 in tie-breaks). At the Australian Open last month, Raonic defeated Wawrinka in four tie-break sets 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 7-6(11), 7-6(5).