© Corinne Dubreuil | @moselleopen

Stan Wawrinka defeats Joao Sousa at the Moselle Open in Metz on Wednesday afternoon.

Wawrinka Sinks Sousa, Will Meet Medvedev In Metz

Former World No. 3 came through qualifying at ATP 250 event

After a season of hard knocks, Stan Wawrinka is building momentum at the Moselle Open in Metz.

The former World No. 3 prevailed 7-6(1), 6-2 against Joao Sousa on Wednesday in the first round at the indoor hard-court event, backing up his two qualifying wins that earned him a main-draw spot in north-eastern France. Wawrinka has struggled to find his best level since returning to Tour in April after missing 13 months due to a foot injury, but the 16-time tour-level titlist gave frequent reminders of his ability with a series of trademark clean backhand winners to overpower World No. 55 Sousa.

“It’s always difficult to play against him. We played a few times in the past, always a tough match, but I’m really, really happy,” said Wawrinka after securing his fourth tour-level main-draw win of 2022. “It’s the first time I won three matches in the same tournament for more than two years, so it’s great.

“I’m getting confidence from winning a few matches, so I’m feeling a bit more relaxed, the way I’m moving. I think the level was good from me and I’m happy with the win.”

Wawrinka also produced a high-class serving performance against Sousa, saving all three break points he faced in the 95-minute encounter and winning 83 per cent (29/35) of points behind his first serve. He will hope to find that rhythm again in his fourth ATP Head2Head meeting against top seed Medvedev. Wawrinka has won only one of the pair’s previous meetings but it was the most recent, at the 2020 Australian Open.

“It’s the biggest test,” said Wawrinka of his match against Medvedev. “He’s [near] the top of the rankings, always a tough opponent to play… It’s going to be really difficult, but I’m happy to test myself against him tomorrow.”

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