Russian tennis player Roman Safiullin didn't hide his happiness after getting a chance to play Stan Wawrinka as he called the Swiss a "legend" of the game after their clash. Safiullin, ranked at No. 178 in the world, beat Czech Lukas Rosol in his opening match at the Prague Challenger to set up the biggest match of his career against Wawrinka.
Wawrinka, ranked at No. 17 in the world, entered the match as the big favorite but he was had to work hard for the victory as he end in the beat Safiullin in three sets 6-1 4-6 6-1. "I have been waiting for the moment to back on the court more than 5 months," Safiullin said post-match in an Instagram post.
"I’m really happy to back to my business." Wawrinka, a former world No. 3, has won three Grand Slam titles throughout his career and he has been one of the top players on the Tour for over the last decade. "I played against the legend yesterday.
Thanks for the supporting me, I strongly believe it was just the beginning," Safiullin added.
Safiullin fought well against Wawrinka
Safiullin, a former world No. 170, clearly felt the pressure early on as Wawrinka started the match with back-to-back breaks to open a comfortable 5-0 lead.
The Russian served out the sixth game of the first set to get on the board, before the Swiss routinely served out for the opener in the following game. Safiullin dropped his serve in the third game of the second set but broke back Wawrinka in the following game to level the set at two games apiece.
The Russian then saved three break points in the fifth game, before he broke the Swiss in the 10th game to win the second set and force a decider. But Safiullin stood no chance in the third set as Wawrinka claimed three breaks in the set to eventually claim the win.
"It was as expected, after six months being out," Wawrinka said after the match, as quoted on the ATP website. "I came here to find some rhythm and check where I am. I'm happy for the victory for sure. There's a lot of work to do, but the most important thing was to win the match, so I can play again here." Wawrinka plays next against German Oscar Otte.