Wawrinka Captures Fourth Title Of Year In Tokyo
Stan Wawrinka secures the Tokyo crown
Stan Wawrinka captured his fourth title in a career-best season Sunday at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships. He became the first Swiss winner in Tokyo since Roger Federer in 2006 (d. Henman).
Wawrinka dominated his 20th tour-level final appearance, outclassing his good friend Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-4 over 65 minutes at the Ariake Colosseum, the tennis venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. By recording his fifth win over Paire, Wawrinka is now 11-9 lifetime in title matches.
"I feel great, it's been a really good week for me to win a title again, something always special," said Wawrinka. "You don't win a title every week. It's always difficult when I play a good friend like Benoit. I knew before the match he was struggling a bit physically, but I saw the doctor who told me Benoit was ready to play. I played my best game today. I felt the ball well and was aggressive. I am very happy to have the trophy tonight."
The 30-year-old Wawrinka received a cheque for $306,200 and earned 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points. He has already qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals to be held at The O2 in London from 15-22 November. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Wawrinka have clinched their spots, with four berths left up for grabs over the next four weeks of the regular ATP World Tour season.
Under a closed roof, due to inclement weather, Wawrinka soon gained control of the pair's sixth meeting. In moving Paire around the court, he created space, and, despite being broken in a 10-point fifth game, Wawrinka was able to clinch three of Paire's service games in the 26-minute opener. Paire, who had strapping on his left ankle, won eight of Wawrinka's service points and committed 12 unforced errors.
Wawrinka withstood two break points in the third game of the second set, including, at one point, drawing a smile from Paire, for a hard-hit backhand down the line that the World No. 32 did not anticipate when standing close to the net. The set looked to be heading for a tie-break, but with Paire serving at 5-4, Wawrinka applied pressure.
Paire, who was hoping to become the first Tokyo titlist from France since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2009, is now 1-3 in ATP World Tour finals. This week, following consecutive three-set victories over Grigor Dimitrov, Marcos Baghdatis, Nick Kyrgios and two-time champion Kei Nishikori, he earned $138,000 and 300 Emirates ATP Rankings point.
"It was not easy, when I woke up this morning I could not walk," said Paire. "I was not sure if I could play today. One hour before the match it was very painful, so I asked: 'What can we do?' I spoke with the doctor and physiotherapist and we made something for my foot. I couldn't feel anything in my foot, but I tried to do all I could to play the match and win. It's harsh, but I could not defend on points. Stan played a very good match and congratulations to him. It's back luck for me."