Indian Wells and Monterrey were the final Challenger tournaments of the season before the coronavirus outbreak, staged in the last moment in the early days of March. Challenger season should restart in Prague and Todi on August 17, with many top-100 players entering the draws in their first official matches in more than five months.
Jiri Vesely, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Attila Balazs, and Marton Fucsovics are Prague's leaders. However, they will all have to beat a three-time Major champion en route to the title! Opting to skip the US Open where he is a former champion, Stan Wawrinka will enter back-to-back Challengers in Prague, competing at this level for the first time since Lugano 2010!
The Swiss claimed two Lugano crowns in 2009 and 2010, playing Challengers for the first time since 2005 and returning to this level after a decade. Stan will try to shape up his form ahead of Rome and Roland Garros, training on beloved clay lately and hoping for a strong restart in his first event since Acapulco in February.
Stan has played three ATP tournaments so far in 2020, losing to Corentin Moutet in the semi-final in Doha, Alexander Zverev at the Australian Open and Grigor Dimitrov in Acapulco. Stan grabbed five straight victories against Dimitrov but that streak had to finish in Acapulco, with the Bulgarian scoring a 6-4, 6-4 triumph.
Serving at 76%, Dimitrov fended off three out of four break chances, mounting pressure on Stan's second serve and securing three breaks from six opportunities that carried him over the finish line. Wawrinka made too many unforced errors from both forehand and backhand wing, unable to follow the rival's pace or produce his best tennis when it mattered the most, finishing the campaign in the quarters.
Stan Wawrinka will enter the Challenger draw for the first time since 2010.
The Swiss sprayed a backhand error in the first game to suffer a break at love, pulling it back at 2-3 when Grigor netted a backhand to level the score at 3-3.
Dimitrov moved back in front when Wawrinka sent a forehand long in the next game, saving a break chance in the eighth game and closing the opener when Stan produced a massive forehand mistake at 4-5. The Bulgarian faced only one break point in set number two, saving it and earning a break at love at 2-2 after a forehand mistake from Stan that would cost him dearly.
Serving for the victory at 5-4, Grigor notched an excellent hold to move over the top and set Rafael Nadal clash. Wawrinka should be the favorite in Prague, but we have to remember almost all the players are starting from the beginning, needing some time to find the rhythm in the official matches.