ATP Rotterdam: Stan Wawrinka tops Benoit Paire. Basilashvili beats Chung

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ATP Rotterdam: Stan Wawrinka tops Benoit Paire. Basilashvili beats Chung

A former Rotterdam champion Stan Wawrinka is through to the second round after a 7-6, 6-1 win over Benoit Paire in 71 minutes. This was the 12th clash on the Tour between two good friends and the ninth triumph for the Swiss who faced just two break points in the entire match, playing better and better as the encounter progressed to secure the place in round two.

Benoit gave away almost half of the points behind his initial shot, suffering four breaks from six chances he gave to Stan and losing the ground after wasting no less than three set points in the closing stages of the opening set.

The match kicked off with six easy holds on both sides before Wawrinka suffered a break at 15 when his forehand finished in the net, with Paire creating a set point on the return at 5-3 after a volley winner. Stan repelled it with an ace, forcing an error from Benoit to secure the game and reduce the deficit before he broke back in game ten, but only after saving two set points.

The Frenchman failed to make that final push and the Swiss broke back after a terrible drop shot from Paire that barely caught the net. Stan won the tie break 7-4 following a terrible backhand from his rival and this pretty much secured the overall win for him, as Benoit faded from the court in set number two, just like many times before.

Wawrinka rattled off six straight games in the second set to race towards the finish line, breaking in game three with a backhand down the line winner before securing another one with a powerful forehand for a 4-1. Serving to stay in the match at 1-5, Paire sprayed a volley error to push Stan into the second round where he will face Milos Raonic or Philipp Kohlschreiber.

The 9th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili took down struggling Korean Hyeon Chung 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 in two hours and 17 minutes for the fifth win of the season. Less than a year ago Chung had a career-high ranking but he is miles from that form, winning just one match in 2019 so far and losing energy and the momentum in the decider today despite a solid effort in sets one and two.

Serving at only 45%, Nikoloz blasted 15 aces but also nine double faults, facing nine break points and suffering four breaks to win just four points more than his rival. Hyeon had to play against 11 break points and he gave serve away five times, creating a break point at 5-5 in the second set but losing the majority of the big points after that to hit the exit door earlier than he hoped.

Leading 4-1, Nikoloz still had to give the first serve away, with Hyeon serving well and earning breaks in games seven and nine before holding at love in game ten for a 6-4. Hyeon scored a break at the start of the second set as well before netting an easy backhand in game four that cost him the break and the momentum.

Basilashvili broke again for a 5-3 and he failed to serve out for the set, spraying a huge volley error at the net to hand the gift the break to Chung who had the opportunity to seal the deal in the tie break. That never happened, though, as Nikoloz won it 7-1 to survive and set the decider where he was the player to beat.

Chung had not much left in the tank, taking just four points on the return in the third set and falling behind when his backhand landed long in game three. Another loose backhand from the Korean sent the Georgian 4-1 in front and Nikoloz crossed the finish line with a service winner in game eight to march towards the second round where he will play against Martin Klizan or Marton Fucsovics.

In another first-round match, Mikhail Kukushkin defeated a home star Robin Haase 6-2, 7-6 in an hour and 30 minutes, losing just 16 points in ten service games and pushing the rival to the limits on the second serve to create eight chances and convert two in the opening set.

Haase played well behind the first serve but that wasn't enough at least for a set, dropping the second set tie break 7-4 and missing the opportunity to play at least one more match in front of the home crowd.