2016 Swiss Indoors Basel: Stan Wawrinka vs Donald Young

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Donald Young looks to play spoiler as he battles top seed Stan Wawrinka in second round play at the Swiss Indoors Basel. Wawrinka looks to make it back-to-back wins in Basel for the first time since 2011, when he made the semifinals.

(1) Stan Wawrinka vs (q) Donald Young
Wawrinka was made to work hard to break his four year first round losing streak in Basel on Tuesday. The top seeded Swiss needed three sets to extinguish fellow Swiss Marco Chiudinelli 6-7 (1), 6-1, 6-4. Wawrinka righted the ship in the second set after getting crushed in the opening set tiebreak. He would break Chiudinelli on his first two service games and not look back. In the third set, Wawrinka survived a nervy and lengthy 8th game, where he was taken to deuce six times and fought off two break points for a hold. As often is the case, Chiudinelli lost focus in the next game that the Stanimal converted for the key break to go up 5-4. He would finally finish Chiudinelli off on his 4th match point in the final game.

For the match, Wawrinka finishes with 16 aces and did win 74 percent of his first serve points. That number was deflated a bit by the leaky final set, where he struggled to win 59 percent of his first serve points. He offset that by taking 69 percent on his second serve. He was good enough off Chiudinelli’s serve, breaking him four times on seven chances. Wawrinka made most of his inroads off the second serve, where he took 27 of 45 points. Chiudinelli was fairly stout with his first serve taking 82 percent of the points, but he only managed to land his first serve 52 percent of the time.

Young got his week in Basel off on the good foot as he dispatched of Illya Marchenko in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. After dropping serve early in the opening set, Young fought back from down 4-2 to run of four straight games to take the set. The second set would go easier as the American held serve easily and scored two late breaks to seal the deal. For the match, Young had decent numbers by his standards. He won 69 percent of his first serve points and 64 percent on second serve. He was broken just the one time on two chances. His return game was solid as the lefty took 47 percent of the points off of the Marchenko serve on the day.

This second round match marks the fourth time that Wawrinka and Young have squared off in their careers. The last meeting was at last year’s U.S. Open. Young took a set off Wawrinka, but lost 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. It was their first meeting since 2011, when they faced each other twice. That was the year that Young stunned Wawrinka in a fifth set tiebreak in the second round of the U.S. Open. Wawrinka would get some revenge later in the season in Shanghai with a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 6-2 win. All-in-all, Young does seem to trouble Wawrinka to the extent that the Swiss will need to bring forth a good effort or be on upset watch on Thursday.

In dissecting the numbers in their last meeting, Wawrinka’s key advantage as you would expect was his serve. This week’s top seed won 81 percent of his first serve points compared to Young winning just 70 percent. Wawrinka did struggle landing that first serve though at 53 percent, which is what gave Young some opportunities. Young broke Wawrinka three times on six chances in that U.S. Open meeting with Wawrinka taking all four of the break points that he saw off the lefty serve. That figures to be a key again in this meeting with Young needing to do much better in fighting off the break chances that likely will come against him. He has saved five of seven break chances against him in qualifying and his first round match this week.

There really is no comparison with their serves. Wawrinka’s physicality can wear on the best returner when his serve is on point. He brings a hard and heavy first serve that crafts easy points by taking his opponent off balance. Where the Swiss can get into trouble is if he is having to go to his second serve too often. That will be part of the hope for Young in this one. As for “The Donald” himself, he must find a service rhythm early to compete in this one. This surface seems to jive with his serve to this point, but Wawrinka will bring more pressure against Young than he has seen so far. Young can’t match Wawrinka with power on serve, so he’s got to use precision to put himself into good position when Wawrinka is able to return the ball. That will set Young up better in the ground exchanges.

Off the ground, we know about the glorious one handed backhand of Wawrinka. It’s powerful and precise on most nights. His forehand is the shakier side, but also brings with it plenty of pop. It is likely to be the side that Young tests a bit more frequently though. Young himself has both a decent forehand and backhand, but nothing that is going to bring the house down. His forehand is the better weapon and he’ll hope to create some good angles as he whips it around the court. Where Young can match Wawrinka is in long rallies with his athleticism and agility. While Wawrinka is also pretty solid from that standpoint, Young is a shade quicker to the ball. If he can work Wawrinka around the court enough and use his speed to get to shots, he will be a pest.

This will be an interesting clash to see if Wawrinka has exercised the demons in Basel. Young has shown the ability to give Wawrinka a run for his money and the best of three format probably gives him his best shot at catching lighting-in-a-bottle for a big upset. Wawrinka may well play more relaxed now that the first round issue is behind him this week and that would be bad news for Young. The flip side is Wawrinka could be feeling more pressure still as the “home town” guy who organizers need to have move on with several seeds already being dumped out of the tournament this week.

Wawrinka surely has shown to be a pressure player on the biggest of stages, but it’s these smaller tournaments where he seems to wobble on occasion. Young is stuck in another mediocre season, but he seems to relish playing the cream of the crop. In his last seven matches against Top 10 opponents, he’s taken at least one set four times. That includes one in Tokyo this season against Kei Nishikori before ultimately losing. That could well be the formula in this one as Young has had trouble finishing off those same opponents. Give Young a set in this one, but I think Wawrinka will wobble past him and into the quarterfinals … I won’t be entirely stunned though if Wawrinka gets bounced.

Prediction
Wawrinka wins in three sets

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