Wawrinka Fights Into Basel QFs

Del Potro downs London hopeful Goffin

It was better late than never for Stan Wawrinka at the Swiss Indoors Basel on Thursday. The top seed unsuccessfully served for the match at 5-3 in the second set before winning 7-6(4), 6-7(3), 6-4 against Donald Young to advance to the quarter-finals. The 2011 semi-finalist is a win away from his best showing in Basel, and will next face Mischa Zverev.

Wawrinka enjoyed a strong serving day and was cruising toward his third win over Young in four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings when the American left-hander scored his lone break of the match in a must-win game. Young had taken at least a set off Wawrinka in all of their past tour-level meetings, but the Swiss refocused in the decider, firing seven aces and saving two break points to secure his 11th win in Basel. He finished with 16 aces and only one double fault. 

Juan Martin del Potro strengthened his case for winning Comeback Player of the Year in the ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon. The towering Argentine scored a 7-5, 6-3 victory over No. 5 seed David Goffin in the second round. The 2012 and 2013 Basel champion saved all four break points faced to improve to 18-3 at the event.

"I played well in the big moments. I broke his serve once in each set, and that was enough to win today," said del Potro, who will next face Kei Nishikori. He is 4-0 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against the Japanese star and has won all 10 sets played. "[Kei] is so fast and so aggressive with his backhand. My game has changed since my [wrist] injury but if I serve well, I have a chance to win."

It was a disappointing result for Goffin, who is neck and neck with Marin Cilic in their quest to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Goffin was hoping to catch Tomas Berdych for the No. 9 position in the Emirates ATP Race To London after the Czech fell in his Vienna opener earlier this week.

Cilic had a late scare against Pablo Carreno Busta, but swept the final seven points of the match to win 6-0, 7-6(4) and move into the quarter-finals. The No. 4 seed will next face Marcel Granollers, who upended Jack Sock 6-3, 6-1.

"I came out quite fast in the first set but I expected Pablo to find his rhythm," Cilic said. "Everything was going in my favour in the first set. I wasn't playing worse in the second, I just missed some opportunities and that gave him extra time to settle down. It was quite tight in the tie-break. It was a mental battle. I knew it was critical to finish the match in two sets and I was lucky to pull it out."

The 6’6” Croatian got off to a good start against Carreno Busta, losing only one point on serve in dominating the first set. The Spaniard hung tough in the second, saving a match point when serving at 4-5 and racing to a 4/0 lead in the tie-break. Cilic took the next six points with a barrage of deep ground strokes. A lucky bounce off the let tape then provided him with an easy backhand put-away on his second match point.

Gilles Muller took out Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the final eight. The big-serving lefty fired 15 aces and did not face a break point. Mayer, aged 33, is also a Comeback Player of the Year nominee after missing most of the past two seasons with injury.

QUARTER-FINAL PREVIEW: Ranked 1,000 spots higher than when he returned to the ATP World Tour in February, World No. 42 Juan Martin del Potro looks to extend his comeback season Friday at the Swiss Indoors Basel. Playing his last ATP tournament of 2016, del Potro meets World No. 5 Kei Nishikori in a quarter-final match on Centre Court. Del Potro has won 12 straight matches at St. Jakobshalle, with two titles in 2012 and 2013 preceding three left-wrist surgeries in 2014 and 2015. A wild card this week, del Potro has swept all 10 sets in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Nishikori. The Argentine has also posted four victories over Top 5 opponents already in 2016, defeating Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal.

Wawrinka needed three sets to defeat wild card Marco Chiudinelli and qualifier Donald Young. Another player ranked outside the Top 50, World No. 72 Mischa Zverev, awaits in the quarter-finals. Making his 13th appearance in 14 years at the Swiss Indoors Basel, Wawrinka is trying to reach the semi-finals for the third time. The No. 1 Swiss has never played for the title and entered the week with a five-match tournament losing streak.

Marin Cilic would break into the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Race to London by beating Marcel Granollers on Friday. Should he go on to defeat Wawrinka or Zverev in the semi-finals, Cilic would pass Tomas Berdych and rise to No. 9, which is the cut for qualification at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals with Rafael Nadal out for the season. Unseeded left-handers Gilles Muller and Federico Delbonis will meet in the other Basel quarter-final. 

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