Wawrinka Survives Tough Test At St. Petersburg Open

Stan Wawrinka (photo: St. Petersburg Open)

WASHINGTON, October 13, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Fifth-seed Stan Wawrinka survived a tough first-round challenge from Great Britain’s Dan Evans Monday night, saving three match points, during the opening round of the ATP 500 St. Petersburg Open in St. Petersburg, Russia. The World No. 18 from Switzerland prevailed against the 34th-ranked Evans, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5, in two hours and 31 minutes inside Sibur Arena.

Wawrinka, who is 7-2 lifetime in this event, has never lost before the semifinals in St. Petersburg. He made the final in 2016 and reached the semifinals in 2018. Against Evans, he hit 46 winners, including eight service aces, and made 33 unforced errors. Evans countered with 33 winners and committed 21 unforced errors.

“It’s always difficult when I play Dan. He’s a great player,” said Wawrinka during an on-court interview after his win. “Always a tough battle with him. Today, I saved some important points in the second, I stayed focused on my game. I started to serve better and be a bit more aggressive. So, really happy to be back here in St. Petersburg and to have won that match.”

Three Americans lose in first round

Other first-round winners included No. 52 Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan and No. 75 Cameron Norrie from Great Britain. Three Americans – Tennys Sandgren, Mackenzie McDonald and eighth seed Taylor Fritz – all lost in Monday’s first round. Bublik served 25 aces and beat McDonald, 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4, and Fritz fell to Norrie, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. The 48th-ranked Sandgren was eliminated by 117th-ranked Russian wild card Asian Karatsev, 7-5, 3-6, 7-5. Wawrinka’s next opponent, No. 121 Evgeny Donskoy of Russia, beat Egor Gerasimov from Belarus, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

St. Petersburg Open notes

• No. 3 seed Andrey Rublev from Russia , No. 4 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia, No. 6 seed Milos Raonic of Canada and Croatia’s No. 7 seed Borna Coric are all in action Tuesday. The top two seeds – No. 1 Daniil Medvedev of Russia, and No. 2 Denis Shapovalov from Canada – will play Wednesday.

• An unnamed player was withdrawn Monday after testing positive for the coronavirus. The ATP Tour said the player was moved into isolation and “is currently asymptomatic.”