After Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Gael Monfils and Fabio Fognini, the three-time Major champion Stan Wawrinka is the most notable player who will skip the US Open. Instead of traveling to the USA, Stan will return at the next week's Prague Challenger, entering his first tournament at that level since 2010!
Indian Wells and Monterrey were the last Challengers of the season before the coronavirus outbreak, staged in the early days of March. Challenger season will kick off again next week 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, Pedro Martinez and Jozef Kovalik will join Wawrinka in the Czech capital, hoping to score a massive win and steal the crown ahead of the Swiss. Opting to skip the US Open, where he won the title in the past, Wawrinka embraces 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 staying on the ATP Tour alone for a decade. Stan will try to shape up his form ahead of Rome and Roland Garros, hitting the clay-court every day in the past couple of weeks and hoping for a strong restart in his first event since Acapulco in February.
Stan has played three ATP tournaments in 2020, suffering an unexpected loss to Corentin Moutet in the semi-final in Doha before Alexander Zverev ousted him at the Australian Open. 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, keeping the pressure on Stan's second serve and securing three breaks from six opportunities that carried him over the top.
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 was up and running again when Wawrinka sent a forehand long in the next one, saving a break point in the eighth game and closing the opener when Stan produced a massive forehand mistake at 4-5. The Bulgarian served well in set number two, saving the only break point 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 zero, needing some time to find the rhythm in the official matches.
"It's a privilege to be back on the court doing what we love," Stan Wawrinka said. "I'm looking forward to returning to beautiful Prague after many years. I've been working hard and practicing well during the last few weeks. Now I can't wait to be back in competition and to play matches again."