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Wawrinka Continues Run, Claws Past Rune In Indian Wells

Stan Wawrinka recovered from a second-set collapse against Holger Rune at the BNP Paribas Open Monday, overcoming the seventh seed 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 to earn his 550th tour-level win and reach the fourth round at an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time since 2020.

In a meeting between the experienced 37-year-old Wawrinka and 19-year-old young gun Rune, it was the former World No. 3 who looked set to earn a comfortable victory in Indian Wells, where he led 6-2, 5-3. However, the Swiss star squandered one match point on serve at 5-3 and a 5/2 lead in the second-set tie-break, giving the 19-year-old Rune a foothold into the match.

However, Wawrinka would not be denied, winning 85 per cent (17/20) of his first-serve points in the third set to prevail. With his two-hour, 38-minute win, he gained revenge for his defeat against Rune in Paris last year in their only previous meeting.

“I feel good,” Wawrinka said. “The last 45 minutes was tough. I had the match in control, was playing well. I was putting a lot of pressure, I should have won the match way before. I started feeling nervous and hesitated a little bit. He came back in the match. He is an amazing player, a young player. But it is special to keep winning. It was important to stay there mentally because I am playing well.

“I was trying to stay calm with myself. I lost to him already in Paris. All my career I know only one way. To keep fighting, working, pushing myself and stay positive. I am super happy with the win.”

Wawrinka has now captured nine tour-level wins this year, one more than he managed in all of 2022.

Another rollercoaster 🎢3 setter from Rune & @stanwawrinka

Crucially this time around, Wawrinka created a dominance in #Conversion

A 12% advantage in #Conversion has a win probability of 84% on @atptour

See their Paris Masters #Insights in the 🧵for comparison…

— Tennis Insights (@tennis_insights) March 14, 2023

The 37-year-old advanced to the quarter-finals at the Rolex Paris Masters in 2020 and will aim to match that feat when he takes on Jannik Sinner in the fourth round.

In a topsy-turvy clash, Wawrinka was the dominant player during the first 90 minutes at the hard-court event. But he buckled when trying to close out, committing forehand errors to lose both service points from 5/2 in the tie-break. Rune then upped his aggression to level the set and continued on the attack in the decider.

Wawrinka remained solid on serve in the third set, though, and gained the vital break at 5-5 before sealing his win on serve, one hour and 16 minutes after his first match point.

Wawrinka is making his 12th appearance in Indian Wells, with his best result a run to the final in 2017. He is turning back time this week in California, having also defeated Aleksandar Vukic and Miomir Kecmanovic.

Rune, who struggled to find any rhythm for large parts of the third-round clash, was chasing his second ATP Masters 1000 crown and first title of the season this week.

Wawrinka will face another challenger from the younger generation on Monday in the form of Sinner. The Italian won a match of fine margins later on Sunday afternoon, edging Adrian Mannarino 7-6(7), 6-4.

While Sinner did not feel he played his best tennis in the breezy, sunny desert conditions, he was happy on the whole after advancing to the Indian Wells fourth round for the third straight year.

“I think I can still be very proud of myself because I had a lot of patience today, which I had to,” he said post-match. “He’s a very tricky player, he’s an incredible player… He’s lefty, he plays a ball which most likely nobody plays. I’m happy, for sure, but I have to raise my level.”

After saving a set point at 5/6 in the opening-set tie-break, Sinner created the first break points of the match for either man at 4-4, 15/40 on the Mannarino serve. The 11th seed took his second opportunity when the Frenchman sailed a stretching backhand long, then served out the win from 30/30  — an overhead, his 15th winner of the match, clinching victory.

Sinner was strong on both first and second serve in the match, winning roughly 80 per cent of his points off both deliveries.

His win sets a fifth ATP Head2Head meeting with Wawrinka and a second this season, after Sinner’s dominant win last month in the Rotterdam quarter-finals. The series between the pre-tournament practice partners is level at 2-2.

“I think we both know [each other] quite well, the way we play,” said the Italian, looking ahead. “It’s going to be for sure a tough match… He’s playing some very, very good tennis. He’s now back in confidence, he’s had some very good wins now.

“He plays very well here, he likes the conditions, so hopefully it’s going to be a good match.”

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