Wednesday was marked on the calendar as the day when the 2016 Aircel Chennai Open would get its first glimpse of its top seed and defending champion, Stan Wawrinka, in action. In a clash of veteran versus novice, Wawrinka was taking on 18-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev.
Rublev was coming off a big win over India's Somdev Devvarman yesterday, but he found the task a little too steep today.
Wawrinka spent just 52 minutes in dispatching his teenaged opponent, winning 6-3 6-2 in quick time to move into the quarterfinals. The power and placement of Wawrinka's strokes left Rublev short of ideas and no matter what he tried, he was up against a freight train going downhill.
As early as the third game Rublev was in trouble, down break point, one that he saved with a body serve to cramp up Wawrinka. One more chance presented itself which the Swiss failed to take thanks to an unforced error.
Holding eventually, Rublev tried to mount a challenge in the next game, but played some bad shots, such as a simple backhand slice into the net, to finish. Wawrinka hit a rapid backhand crosscourt winner to wrap the game up and stared down his opponent afterward.
With the champ's game falling into place, Rublev cracked under the pressure. He got broken in the next game to give the Swiss a 3-2 lead after some careless unforced errors. More winners flowed from Wawrinka the rest of the set, taking firm control off both wings, winning the opener 6-3.
The signs were ominous for young Rublev at the start of the second as he served a double fault on his very first service point, leading to him slamming his racquet in disgust. A few more errors lent Wawrinka more gifts with an opening break. The Wawrinka backhand was now in full flow and even regulation points for Rublev to put away were becoming a pain.
Wawrinka kept his foot on the pedal and soon found himself serving for the match. He wrapped things up with an ace, just 176 km/h, but perfectly placed in the corner, to take in the plaudits of the adoring crowd.
Pavic's journey ends as Garcia-Lopez progresses
Ante Pavic, who came through the qualifiers, and upset former Aircel Chennai Open semifinalist Nicolas Almagro in the first round, lost in his encounter against another Spaniard, the fifth seed, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Pavic had called his win over Almagro the biggest of his career, but he couldn't register his first win over a seeded player. Garcia-Lopez, despite having injured his leg a bit during his opener, won in straight sets, 7-6(5) 6-1.
The first set was tight, with no breaks. The two games that went to deuce both were on Garcia-Lopez's serve. After 59 minutes, the Spaniard took the opener. That loss seemed to deflate Pavic, who faded badly in the second.
Garcia-Lopez will next play Wawrinka.