A meeting between two very talented friends in the end turned out be a quite routine affair as Stan Wawrinka, the top seed and reigning champion, emerged a comfortable winner in his semi-final clash against Benoit Paire of France, the third seed.
The two men had in fact won a title together here the last time Paire appeared at this tournament in the doubles, back in 2014.
The friendship was very much on display yesterday evening, but sadly not the fireworks that we were expecting. Defending champion Wawrinka didn’t really have to step up his game too much in the end on Saturday.
In the fourth game, Paire fought off two break points with some good forehand shots to stay with Wawrinka. In his next service game though he got broken after some backhand errors of his own.
The crowd assembled had to wait until the eighth game to witness the first Wawrinka down the line winner off the backhand. Paire struggled with his game plan execution throughout and Wawrinka’s shots were just too heavy most of the time.
The second set followed a similar pattern to the first with Paire unable to get any great foothold in the match. One more break in the second and Wawrinka finished it soon, 6-3 6-4.
Paire’s challenge, or rather, the lack of it, made things very easy for Wawrinka. Paire looked laboured, struggling for movement as well as direction.
“I think I played at a good level today, happy with it and happy to be in the final again”, said Wawrinka post the game.
Wawrinka extended his streak of wins to 11 here and also is on a run of 22 consecutive sets won.
He will meet 19-year-old Borna Coric in the finals tonight as he defends his title and looks to secure a hat-trick.