Top seeded Stan Wawrinka has won 11 straight matches in Chennai over the past three seasons. He seeks his 12th career title, while Borna Coric is taking part in his first-ever ATP final.
(1) Stan Wawrinka vs (8) Borna Coric
Stan Wawrinka kept his perfect record intact this week in the semifinals as he won his third straight match in straight sets this week. Wawrinka wasn’t quite in peak form early, but he had plenty enough to defeat Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-4. The Swiss still won 70 percent of his service points and took advantage of the Frenchman’s weaker second serve. Wawrinka won 14 of 24 points off Paire’s second serve, while taking care of his own in winning 17 of 24 points.
Coric had no such easy road in the semifinals as he battled Aljaz Bedene for nearly three hours on Saturday. The Croatian seemed fatigued in the third set, but was able to put forth the effort to seal a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-3 win. It clinched Coric’s first trip to an ATP level final. The 8th seed banged out 11 aces in the opening set as he set the tone, but had just six more over the next two sets. Coric’s biggest moment may have come late in the third as he held through seven deuces and and five break points to hold to a 4-3 lead. He would not lose another game after that.
Wawrinka and Coric have met twice before with both matches taking place last season. In the second round of last year’s event in Chennai, Wawrinka whipped Coric 6-1, 6-4. The Croatian had some problems with his serve as Wawrinka jumped on his second serve to win 15 of the 26 points played. The Swiss would break him three times on eight chances. Wawrinka was too strong with his serve as he won an astounding 92 percent of his first serve points and did not allow a single break opportunity.
The rematch came later in the season in August in Cincinnati. In that second round meeting, Coric showed much better as he took the opener, before falling 3-6, 7-6, 6-3. Coric’s serve was much improved in that match as he won 83 percent of his first serve points and was broken just once. Wawrinka pounded 14 aces and saw his serve broken twice. The match should serve as a bit of a confidence booster for Coric to reflect on ahead of Sunday’s clash.
Despite the improvement shown in Cincinnati last season, Sunday’s final looks to be a tough one for the 8th seed. Coric is coming off a marathon match with Bedene and has been forced to three sets in three of four matches this week. He could be feeling fatigue both physically and mentally. On top of that, this is Coric’s first ATP final and that can be an intimidating occasion to face, especially against someone as comfortable at this tournament as Wawrinka. This has been Stan’s personal playground with the Swiss now standing at 22-4 at this event during his career.
Wawrinka simply does everything at a better level and with more consistency than Coric at this stage. His forehand is bigger. His backhand is better. His serve normally has a much better rhythm. You get the picture. This is not an impossible task for Coric, but the set-up here heavily favors Wawrinka with Coric likely to have a tough time bouncing back from his draining semifinal. Title number four in Chennai seems a strong possibility at the end of the day for the top seed from Switzerland.
Stan Wawrinka wins in straight sets.