Ranked outside the top-250 in June 2018, Stan Wawrinka worked hard to make a comeback and overcome a nasty knee injury that almost ended his career, returning into the top-20 and becoming a title contender again. Entering Antwerp with a wild card, the Swiss prevailed against Feliciano Lopez and Gilles Simon to advance into the semis where he toppled the young Italian Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-2 in 65 minutes to hit the 30th ATP final as the tenth active player.
Sinner played an incredible tournament to become the youngest ATP semi-finalist since Borna Coric in Basel 2014, delivering some impressive tennis but standing no chance against the three-time Major winner who lost 12 points on serve and kept the pressure on the other side of the net.
Sinner took a set away from Stan at the US Open but was far from that today, scoring one break from two chances and dropping almost half of the points in his games to suffer four breaks from nine opportunities offered to Stan.
The youngster grabbed a break at 15 in the first game of the encounter before Wawrinka broke back in game four to level the score and gather the momentum that carried him towards another break in game six when Jannik sent a backhand wide.
Serving for the set at 5-3, Stan landed four service winners to complete the set in 34 minutes and stay on a firm course with another successful return game at the beginning of the second set. A bullet from a forehand return secured another break for Wawrinka in the fifth game, moving over the top with three winners at 5-2 for the second final of the season, seeking the first crown since Geneva 2017.
Another player who had to hit rock bottom due to injuries stands between Stan Wawrinka and the title, with world no. 243 Andy Murray advanced into the first ATP final since Dubai 2017 thanks to a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 triumph over Ugo Humbert in two hours and 22 minutes.
Just against Marius Copil yesterday, Andy had some troubling moments but managed to overcome them and cross the finish line first, getting broken twice and earning four breaks to stay on the title course in his last event of the season.
The Frenchman survived a challenging game at 2-2 in the first set and fired a forehand winner in the next game to break Murray and open a 4-2 advantage. Two holds at love later, a left-hander had the opener safely in his bag after an ace at 5-3, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the clash.
They traded breaks in games four and five in set number two and stayed neck and neck until the 12th game when Ugo hit a double fault to drop serve and hand the set to Andy who gathered a massive boost ahead of the decider.
There, the Briton survived three break chances in the first game and broke at love in game two after a dreadful volley from Humbert at the net. Playing on a high note in the remaining games, Andy completed the job with another break in game eight after an easy volley at the net, making another huge step on a comeback trail and finishing the season with many positive signals with or without the title on Sunday.