Stan Wawrinka has finally started notching up good results in his comeback trail; earlier this year he reached the final of the Rotterdam tournament where he lost to the Frenchman Gael Monfils. Since then the Swiss has been delivering some decent performances, although he is still not back to his best yet.
He looked in fine touch in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters where he faced Marco Cecchinato and registered a bagel in the first set, in just 17 minutes. Even in the second set Wawrinka was well ahead of Cecchinato as he served for the match at 5-4, before Cecchinato turned it all around and won in three sets.
Still, those 17 minutes of magic in the first set reminded everyone what Wawrinka is capable of. Even though he couldn't capitalize on his quick start, he proved that he still has the game to reach the top of men's tennis.
Wawrinka's opponent today, Guido Pella, has reached the quarterfinals all the three spring claycourt tournaments (Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Munich) he has played. He also won the Sao Paulo Open earlier in March.
Yesterday in Madrid, Pella stunned the young Russian Daniil Medvedev, who was seeded No. 12 this year, with some amazing shot-making. Medvedev made just enough errors and Pella capitalized on them to win the match in three sets (6-2,1-6,6-3).
On the other hand, Wawrinka had a comfortable victory over the Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, winning 6-2, 6-3.
The two players will be facing each other for the first time on tour. But considering their current form and fitness, Pella has the edge over Wawrinka as the Argentinian has a phenomenal record on clay this year.
Wawrinka would have to mix his baseline striking with some net play if he wants to win this match. Pella is ultra-solid from the baseline and can find some sharp angles, especially on his forehand, so trading groundstrokes from the back of the court may not be a winning formula for the Swiss.
Wawrinka's backhand would play a crucial role here as it can generate a fair deal of bounce and pace. If directed accurately to the Pella forehand, it can cause problems for the Argentine as the latter isn't always comfortable hitting high balls off that wing.
All in all, this match has the potential to go the distance, which means the fans are in for a treat today.
Match prediction: Guido Pella to win in three sets.