Wawrinka Rallies To Win Madrid Opener

The 38-year-old will next face Rublev

Ten years on since Stan Wawrinka was a finalist at the Mutua Madrid Open, the Swiss is still competing at a high level in the Spanish capital.

On Wednesday, the 38-year-old downed World No. 39 Maxime Cressy 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-6(4), in opening-round action at the ATP Masters 1000 event. Three-time major champion Wawrinka, who is the oldest player in the Madrid draw, won 46 of 54 first-serve points and fired 19 aces to advance after two hours, 27 minutes.

“I’m super happy, I was expecting a really tough match,” Wawrinka said. “First time playing against him, he’s a tough player, putting a lot of pressure [on you], especially in fast conditions. It’s not easy to control the game, [not] a lot of rallies. I was staying calm and tried to be aggressive as I could on my serve. It’s great to win that battle.”

While Cressy stuck to his serve-and-volley tactics, Wawrinka stayed close to the baseline on first-serve returns and only retreated to handle the American’s hefty second delivery. The former World No. 3 Wawrinka remained steady from the baseline and displayed passing shots off both wings, ending with 41 winners to just 18 unforced errors.

Wawrinka will next meet Monte-Carlo champion Andrey Rublev for the first time since the 2020 Rolex Paris Masters. The Swiss leads their ATP Head2Head 2-1.

“It’s going to be a completely different matchup,” Wawrinka said. “Second round also, I have a match under my legs. I think I can play well, I’ve played him a few times already in my career. He’s in top form, it’s going to be a tough battle, but a great challenge for me. That’s the reason I keep playing, to play the top players and try to beat them.”

In other first-round action, Marrakech champion Roberto Carballes Baena ousted David Goffin 6-4, 6-4. The Spaniard will face two-time Madrid titlist Alexander Zverev in the second round. Alex Molcan, who was a semi-finalist last week in Banja Luka, cruised past Wu Yibing 6-2, 6-4.

Frenchmen Gregoire Barrere and Quentin Halys survived three-setters Monday. Barrere downed American wild card Emilio Nava 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 and Halys escaped Alexei Popyrin 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. 

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