A titanic clash awaits in round two at Wimbledon with Stan Wawrinka set to battle Juan Martin Del Potro. The pair met here eight years ago where Wawrinka won in three tight sets. The winner books a spot in round three to take on either (32) Lucas Pouille or Donald Young.
(4) Stan Wawrinka vs Juan Martin Del Potro
The fourth seeded Swiss survived a relatively tough opener against American teen Taylor Fritz. Wawrinka was on the winning end by a score of 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-4. Wawrinka wasn’t particularly troubled on serve with Fritz breaking him just once on three tries. The fourth seed won 81 percent of his first serve points and a hefty 69 percent off his second. Wawrinka was able to get into Fritz’s serve plenty however, as he broke him five times on 12 chances. It was a rather typical Wawrinka effort in all with 48 winners and 41 unforced errors. Go big or go home.
Del Potro secured his first win at the All England Club since 2013 with a dominating 6-1, 7-5, 6-0 win over Stephane Robert. The Argentine won a whopping 39 of 43 points off his first serve, but only fired five aces overall. He would win just 48 percent off his second serve and was broken once on four chances. Del Potro pounded the Robert serve routinely, winning 52 percent of the return points as he broken Robert eight times on 17 chances. He tallied 30 winners and just 18 unforced errors.
This will be the sixth all-time meeting between Wawrinka and Del Potro, but the first since they met in Estoril on clay back in 2012. Delpo owns a 3-2 advantage in those matches. The lone grass court meeting was in this same round at Wimbledon in 2008. The Swiss came out a 7-6 (5), 6-3, 7-5 winner. Del Potro won the next three in the series, but all of those came on clay.
Del Potro has been able to manage his body enough to stay healthy this season, but is lacking in positive results at this point. He skipped Roland Garros to prep for the grass court season and that looked to pay off in Stuttgart, where he made the semifinals. He would lose his lone match the following week at Queen’s Club in straights to John Isner. It was mostly positive though for the Argentine as he showed again that his big game translates well to this surface when he can harness his full power and array of options.
For Wawrinka, the challenge is always consistency. Those who follow The Pig know that I mention “Non-Slam Stan” quite a bit throughout the year. That in reference to the questionable efforts he puts in at-times in non-Grand Slam tournaments. However, when the stage grows larger for slams, Stanislas shows up more often than not. In the past two years, he has reversed his poor grass court form to make back-to-back quarterfinals at Wimbledon. And this season, he brought in former Wimbledon Champion Richard Krajicek to try and further advance his prowess on the surface.
The Swiss has gone on record as many times as he seems allowed to in order to praise Krajicek and talk about the hope he has that the 1996 champ can aid his bid to win the Wimbledon title. Wawrinka said that Krajicek should help with his tactics on grass and that could mean mixing in a bit more serve and volleying. There is no doubt that Wawrinka’s baseline game is among the best on the ATP World Tour at the moment. When he is hitting his ground strokes with consistency, he obviously can beat anyone, any time, any where.
As for this second round match, the tactics should be intriguing. I would expect that Wawrinka might want to mix in the serve and volley to force Del Potro to move more than he might prefer. Del Potro is also a natural baseliner, but has great movement when he is right. Still, this is just his second best of five match since the Australian Open in 2014 … Wawrinka needs to test his fitness. A key for both without a doubt is getting into rhythm with their first serves. When they are locked in, both are extremely difficult to break down and it usually translates to their ground strokes being supremely effective.
Off the ground, Wawrinka will aim to test the double handed backhand of Del Potro or at least should, as often as possible. That is the stroke that gave Delpo the most worry in his rehab efforts from his wrist problems and still very much is his weaker side. Del Potro will want to use the power of his forehand to try and dictate pace and points when at all possible.
Oppositely, Del Potro should attack the Wawrinka forehand. The Swiss can punish with that wing, but he can also spray a ton of errors when it goes wrong. You see that usually in his winners versus unforced errors tally. And he is still one of the few players who can probably get away with having a lot of UEs simply because he produces more winners even if it is a very high number for both.
This is tough to call. Wawrinka doesn’t usually face potentially dangerous players early in tournaments when his focus and consistency might be farther off. It happened at Roland Garros in round one, but he survived an inferior foe. Here, he is facing a former Grand Slam champion who has all the tools to beat him on this surface. The thing Del Potro may not have is belief.
That means a quick start really is a must for the Argentine to challenge in this one. If he falls behind, I’m not sure how much oomph he can put into a comeback effort with his current mental state and the still inconsistent nature of his game. As much as his on-court game can compare to Wawrinka’s, I just don’t think the mental game is quite right just yet for Del Potro to pull this off. It is possible if he starts quick and plants some seeds of doubt, but the chitlens say Wawrinka edges this one.
Wawrinka wins in four sets