Stan Wawrinka showed why he earned the nickname ‘Stan The Man’ on Thursday evening in Metz. The World no. 284 will ake on Mikael Ymer in the quarterfinals un the Moselle Open.
2022 ATP Tour
ATP 250 Series
Arenes de Metz (Indoor Hardcourt)
Selected Quarterfinals- 23rd September
Mikael Ymer (1/1) vs Stan Wawrinka (4/5)
24-year-old Swede Mikael Ymer seemed destined for greatness after reaching the final of the Wimbledon Juniors in 2015. But the lanky Swede has struggled to truly announce himself upon the tour. For his first few years on tour, he seemed destined to prosper in the fringe events of the clay-court campaign. But there have been some encouraging signs of progress on the hardcourts of late.
He reached his maiden ATP final at last year’s Winston Salem Open (beating Carlos Alcaraz in the process). And he has reached two hardcourt semi-finals this season. This included his maiden ATP 500 semi-final outing at the Citi Open (where he beat Andy Murray). He seems to have added a bit more sting in his serve and slightly more aggression to his baseline play. But he does have issues with consistency.
He lost six successive matches after reaching the Montpelier semi-finals earlier this year. That’s the kind of unpredictable talent he is. He has looked solid this week, taking down the French duo of Mannarino and Barrer in a comfortable fashion. Could this be another week for the highlight reel?
37-year-old Stan Wawrinka is obviously approaching the end of his illustrious career. I wonder if the recent retirement of compatriot Roger Federer has given him more food for thought. The three-time Grand Slam champ has endured a few torrid years dating back to the Covid break.
He has been plagued by injuries and poor form. He missed the early part of the season due to injury and he has struggled to regain that lost momentum. He has plummeted all the way down to 284 in the world and came into this event off the back of six consecutive defeats. But you have to hand it to him for trying to turn the ship around.
He battled through qualifying before a peerless opening round victory against Joao Sousa. But many through the ride was about to end when he came up against Danil Medvedev.
But ‘Stan the Man’ turned back the hands of time with a scintillating display against Medvedev. It was actually his first victory against a top 10 player since he bested Andrey Rublev at the 2020 Paris Masters.
Can Wawrinka handle another tough match in such quick succession?
Verdict: Ymer to win in three at 10/3- This will be the first career meeting between these two. This is an intriguing one. I have my concerns regarding Wawrinka’s fitness after an arduous week. He looked absolutely shattered after his triumph against Medvedev.
This could create a little window of opportunity for the Swedish baseliner. I expect Ymer to extend the rallies for as long as possible and attempt to grind Wawrinka down.
I can honestly see him taking down the giant-killing Wawrinka.
Holger Rune (4) (6/5) vs Alexander Bublik (7) (4/6)
19-year-old Dane Holger Rune has enjoyed a rollercoaster season that has seen him rise into the top 30 in the world rankings. The Dane’s hyper-aggressive style is always likely to lead to some inconsistency. But Rune’s season has been a real ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ act.
He had a humdrum start to the campaign before an explosive breakthrough victory at the Bavarian International Tennis Championships. It wasn’t surprising that Rune’s maiden victory came on clay. He won the 2019 French Open boy’s title and he seems to favour the sticky stuff.
This was only exacerbated by a remarkable run to the French Open quarterfinals. But his season completely deteriorated in the aftermath of that Grand Slam breakthrough: he lost his next six matches. I think he needs to occasionally curb his more aggressive impulses.
He qualified for the quarters courtesy of a Benjamin Bonzi withdrawal. To be fair, Rune looked in complete control of proceedings before the Frenchman withdrew.
The unorthodox and often unpredictable Alexander Bublik has enjoyed a typically mercurial season.
This guy knows how to reach finals. He lost two finals last year and already has two finals under his belt in 2022. That included his maiden ATP Tour title in Montpelier.
He beat Alex Zverev in the final to secure his first ever victory against a top 5 player in the world. But he then plateaued dramatically, absolutely dive-bombing during the clay-court season. But he started to show signs of life with the switch to grass-courts.
This culminated with another final appearance at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. He has made tough work of it this week. He was pushed all the way in his opening match against the unheralded Evan Furness. He then came from a set down to defeat the pugnacious Emil Ruusuvuori.
This promises to be an exciting clash between two of the most unpredictable players currently operating on the tour.
Verdict: Bublik to win in straight sets at 13/8- This will be the first career meeting between these two. Bublik is a curious player to predict. He is a massive server who can dominate on his delivery.
But he has struggled with consistency on serve and has been broken on numerous occasions during this tournament.
But I think the nature of that victory over Ruusuvuori will have given him real confidence. He should be able to dominate the Dane on this surface.