Fine Swine: ATP Chennai SF Preview, Wawrinka vs Paire

Their last meeting came in the Tokyo Final 2015
Photo: Reuters

Stan Wawrinka continues his quest for a three-peat in Chennai on Saturday. The top seeded Swiss has won the title in each of the last two years and faces his good friend Benoit Paire in the semifinals.

(1) Stan Wawrinka vs (3) Benoit Paire
Wawrinka has yet to drop a set in his two matches this week in Chennai. He easily moved past wild card Andrey Rublev to open the tournament in the second round 6-3, 6-2. The Swiss controlled the match with his serve, winning 82 percent of the points played. In the quarterfinals against 5th seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, things were slightly more interesting. Wawrinka was broken for the first time in the tournament as he blew a break lead in the first set. He would recover and put the Spaniard away in two; 6-4, 6-4. Once again his serve was stout as the Swiss crushed 14 aces and won 76 percent of his service points.

For third seeded Benoit Paire, the road to the semifinals has also featured four sets and four sets won. The Frenchman though has had a bit tougher task as three of his four sets have gone to 7-5 results in his favor. He opened with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Lukas Rosol. The Czech was awful as he was broken five times and barely won half (52 percent) of his service points. Paire also struggled to find consistency with his serve as the third seed was broken three times. That mainly revolved around his inability to land first serves. He only landed 50 percent. His first serve was on point when he was able to get it in consistently as he won 29 0f 34 points. His quarterfinal was similar as he beat Thomas Fabbiano 6-4, 7-5. He landed just 44 percent of his first serves, but did stroke 14 aces. Paire was broken four times.

This will mark Wawrinka and Paire’s 7th all-time meeting on tour. The Swiss has dominated the head-to-head with five wins and just one loss. Paire’s lone win came in 2013 at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. They played twice in 2015 with the Swiss demolishing the Frenchman both times. Wawrinka won 6-2, 6-3 on an indoor hard court in Marseille and then 6-2, 6-4 outdoors on a hard court in Tokyo in October. Paire’s struggle was the same in both matches as it has been this week, trying to land first serves. In the two losses last season, the Frenchman landed 44 and 51 percent of his first serves. That allowed Wawrinka plenty of looks at a weaker second serve, resulting in the Swiss breaking Paire seven times combined. Paire managed just one break of Wawrinka’s serve in the two meetings.

There is very little to hide between these two who proclaim the other to be among their best friends on tour. They know each others’ games inside out. To date, that has helped Paire little in finding ways to beat Wawrinka. The major flaw in his game is his serve and finding that consistent pattern. Without rhythm, Paire struggles to land that first serve and you can expect Wawrinka to again take full advantage. Paire cannot expect to see too many opportunities against the Swiss’ serve, which has been on point this week. His inability to convert break chances against Wawrinka for the most part in the past will leave him very little margin for error.

Off the ground, you can enjoy the backhand show from both players. Both possess beautiful backhands with Wawrinka owning one of the best one handed backhands in the game. Paire prefers the two hand approach, but can rip that shot with the best of them. The forehand is an effective weapon for both, but as with most aspects, Wawrinka brings more consistency to the table over Paire.

Wawrinka is extremely comfortable in Chennai with a 21-4 mark at thi tournament in his career. He has won the title three times, including the last two years. For Paire, this is a spot that he talks about wanting to be in and winning. His career numbers say that it’s been mostly talk with a 4-17 mark against the Top 10 in his career. Since Wawrinka’s rise to prominence in 2014, these two have met three times. Paire took a grand total of one set out of seven played. Nothing Paire has shown this week would indicate that he’s going to change the recent history between these two on Saturday.

Wawrinka wins in straight sets


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