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Hear This: Wawrinka Says 'The Level Is There' After Overcoming Ear Problem

Swiss returned to Top 100 last week
March 09, 2023
Stan Wawrinka returns to Indian Wells for his 12th appearance.
Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Stan Wawrinka returns to Indian Wells for his 12th appearance. By ATP Staff

Making his first appearance at the BNP Paribas Open since 2019, Stan Wawrinka played just three games before receiving treatment for a blockage in his left ear.

After having his ear checked out and receiving some drops, the 37-year-old produced two love holds to reassert himself in the match against Aleksandar Vukic. Wawrinka ultimately prevailed 6-4, 1-6, 6-1, extending his win streak in deciding sets to three.

"I've just had some ear problems since a few days, like I can't hear from it, it's completely blocked," the Swiss explained in his post-match press conference. "But not a big deal, it's just not easy to only have one ear and to feel completely free on the court.

"But I think in general I've been playing well and I've been practising good so I'm feeling physically and tennis-wise good. Happy get the win today, it's an important match and hopefully I can keep going."

The victory was also Wawrinka's first since he climbed back into the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings last week, following consecutive quarter-final runs in Rotterdam and Marseille.

"I think it was an important step for sure after being out for so long from surgery, after struggling to come back, to get in shape again physically, to feel good tennis-wise," the former World No. 3 said of his Pepperstone ATP Rankings milestone, 18 years after he first entered the Top 100 in April 2005, when he was 20. 

"To be back in the Top 100 is always an important number. Of course I want to keep going up in the rankings. Hopefully I can also reach to be seeded in Grand Slams and these [ATP Masters 1000] events. We'll see.

"Week after week, I think in general the level is there so hopefully I can keep winning many matches this year."

Wawrinka will next meet 26th seed Miomir Kecmanovic on Saturday for the pair's first ATP Head2Head meeting. The winner will face seventh seed Holger Rune and Mackenzie McDonald in the third round.

Wawrinka is also playing doubles in the desert, forming a fan-favourite duo with Frances Tiafoe. The pair will open against Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta or Roberto Bautista Agut. Competing on two fronts, the Swiss is hopeful of an extended stay at what he called "one of the best ATP tournaments".

"It's always special here, a lot of people from Day 1. It's always packed, so [there is a] great atmosphere," he said of the bustling Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

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