Stan Wawrinka claims first Challenger title in ten years in Prague



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Stan Wawrinka claims first Challenger title in ten years in Prague

World no. 17 Stan Wawrinka has played three ATP tournaments in 2020, reaching quarters but not making an extra push. The Swiss lost to Corentin Moutet in Doha, Alexander Zverev in Melbourne and Grigor Dimitrov in Acapulco, hoping for a better run in Indian Wells and Miami.

Due to the coronavirus, Wawrinka all the other players had to stay at their homes for five months, returning to the court in the next couple of days in New York. Unlike his colleagues, Stan had opted for a different approach, skipping Cincinnati and the US Open and entering two Challengers in Prague on clay, his first events at this level since 2010!

Competing in only two Challengers since 2005 at home in Lugano in 2009 and 2010, Wawrinka went all the way following wins over Potito Starace, rattling off ten straight victories and returning to the lower-tier rank for the first time in a decade this week in the Czech capital.

Entirely expected after such a long break, Stan didn't play at his best but it was enough to win five matches and claim the title, his seventh from nine titles and the third in a row. In the title match, Stan took down world no.

253 Aslan Karatsev 7-6, 6-4 in an hour and 44 minutes, becoming the highest-ranked Challenger winner since Ivan Ljubicic in Prague 2005. In the first match, Stan defeated Roman Safiullin in three sets, finding himself 6-3 down against Oscar Otte before prevailing with a strong performance in the decider.

In the quarter-final, Sumit Nagal stormed over a three-time Major champion in the opening set before Stan shifted into a higher gear, producing marvelous tennis in sets two and three to find himself in the last four. The 20-year-old Czech Michael Vrbensky also had a chance against a former Roland Garros winner, forcing Wawrinka to raise his level after the opener and avoid an unexpected loss.

Making a winning comeback, Stan Wawrinka won the title in Prague Challenger.

In the final, Stan produced a solid performance against the opponent ranked outside the top-250, firing ten aces and dropping only a couple of points behind the initial shot.

Karatsev stayed in touch after fending off five out of six break chances, reaching the first set tie break and falling after a single break in set number two at 1-1. Wawrinka fended off a break chance in the first game, missing his opportunity in the next to keep the Russian on the positive side of the scoreboard.

Both players served well until the tie break that the more experienced player claimed 7-2, earning three mini-breaks and clinching it with an ace in the ninth point. Carried by this momentum, Stan served great in set number two, keeping the pressure on the other side of the court and earning the only break in the third game when Aslan netted a volley.