Wawrinka Records 150th Major Match Win, Beats Koepfer At Roland Garros
Swiss star happy to reach the third round
Stan Wawrinka largely out-muscled Dominik Koepfer from the baseline on Wednesday to take his place in the Roland Garros third round. The 2015 champion recorded his 150th match win at a Grand Slam championship by beating the German 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in two hours and eight minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.
Wawrinka, who beat Novak Djokovic for the 2015 title and finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal two years later, hit 51 winners for his 10th tour-level victory of the 2020 season. He will next prepare to face #NextGenATP wild card Hugo Gaston, who reached the third round of a major championship for the first time after he defeated Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 6-4, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-2 in three hours and two minutes.
Asked whether he believed he could make a deep run at the tournament, Wawrinka said, "I'm ready for it. I've been practising right. I'm feeling good. I like the conditions here. I enjoy being back playing Grand Slam. It's great to be able and have the chance to play this year French Open. Seeing what's happening in the world, it's something different. We are lucky to be able to play here. I'm ready for it. I'm ready for next round. Let's see what will happen in the next two weeks."
Having saved four break points at 2-2, Wawrinka stepped up and from 3-3 in the first set and won seven straight games for a 4-0 advantage in the second set. Koepfer played well at the net, but Wawrinka’s greater weight of stroke in baseline rallies saw the German under constant pressure. Koepfer was heard to mutter, “Can’t get the ball deep” after falling two sets down with 61 minutes on the clock.
Three break points, early in the third set, came and went for Koepfer before the 26-year-old finally broke through for a 5-3 lead, after consecutive forehand errors from Wawrinka. Koepfer then calmly closed out the set with a big serve. But Wawrinka regrouped and used his forehand to devastating effect to win the first five games of the fourth set, which ended with a forehand - the Swiss star's 51st winner.
"I'm playing well," Wawrinka said. "I'm moving well. I'm feeling good on the court. That's it. It's a Grand Slam. It can be long two weeks. It's match after match. You need to stay into it. As I say, I'm playing really well so far, so I'm looking forward for the next match."
Prior to the clay-court major, Wawrinka played just one tour-level match at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. In August, he won an ATP Challenger Tour title in Prague (d. Karatsev), which was his first tournament at that level for 10 years.
Elsewhere, No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman, who reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome (l. to Djokovic), moved past qualifier Lorenzo Giustino 6-1, 7-5, 6-0. Schwartzman now plays Norbert Gombos, a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 victor over qualifier Jurij Rodionov.
"I started to get my confidence back in Rome, playing at night in slow conditions," said Schwartzman. "When I arrived here and I saw the weather, and I saw the new balls, I was thinking, 'Okay, I have a good opportunity to keep playing in the same way. That's why for me the conditions, right now, are good, but also, I know that it's not going to be like this every day."