Wawrinka Retains Geneva Crown

Swiss notches first title of 2017

It was home cooking for Stan Wawrinka on Saturday at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open, as the local favourite successfully defended his crown in the Swiss metropolis.

The top seed ousted Mischa Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes to lift the trophy. Wawrinka, who was born in nearby Lausanne, improved to 9-1 in Geneva, having also prevailed last year (d. Cilic). Zverev denied 13 of 18 break points faced, but Wawrinka was clutch in the big moments.

It was the 16th tour-level title for the World No. 3 and first since winning the US Open last year. He takes home €85,945 in prize money and 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points.

"The level was great today, I think it was a great final," said Wawrinka. "Mischa was playing very well and maybe I was hesitating a bit in the beginning. I’m happy that I came back strongly in the second set and managed to turn the match around.

"I’m extremely happy to win my second title in Switzerland. It means a lot to me. This is the first time that my daughter is in the stadium when I win the title and that makes it even more special."

Zverev took the early initiative on a hot Saturday afternoon in Geneva. Wawrinka misfired a backhand long to concede the break for 3-2 and he would relinquish the opener after 47 minutes. But the reigning champion found his rhythm in the second set. The momentum swing was swift and immediate, as Wawrinka escaped danger from 0/40 down with five consecutive clutch serves and he would break in the next game with a mammoth forehand down the line. 

A sublime drop shot winner saw the Swiss consolidate for 3-0 and after eventually taking the second set, he sprinted to an early lead in the decider with another immediate break. Zverev would draw level at 2-2, but Wawrinka restored the lead and put his head down to the finish line.

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Wawrinka fired a forehand past a net-charging Zverev to secure the title on his first match point. It was sweet revenge for the 32 year old, who fell to Zverev on home soil in the Basel quarter-finals in October. He improves to 2-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

Zverev, meanwhile, will leave Geneva following his best week on the ATP World Tour in seven years. Inspired by younger brother Alexander Zverev's breakthrough at the Masters 1000 event in Rome last week, Mischa enjoyed his first final appearance since finishing runner-up in Metz in 2010. They are the first siblings to reach finals in the same season since 2006, when Olivier Rochus won in Munich and Christophe Rochus was runner-up in Rotterdam.

"It was a great week for me here‎ in Geneva," said Zverev. "Playing on clay is usually not easy for me, but I really felt great here playing six matches this week and reaching my first semi-final and final on this surface. Congratulations to Stan for a good week and a great match today."

The 29-year-old Zverev was also the third qualifier to reach an ATP World Tour final in the past month, joining Budapest runner-up Aljaz Bedene and Munich finalist Guido Pella. He won six matches in seven days to reach the final, highlighted by a semi-final victory over second seed Kei Nishikori. It was the seventh Top 10 win of his career. He earns €45,265 and 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points, rising two spots to a projected World No. 31.

Wawrinka and Zverev will next head to Roland Garros for the second Grand Slam of the year. The third-seeded Swiss opens against qualifier Jozef Kovalik, while the 32nd-seeded German faces qualifier Stefano Napolitano

"I’m looking forward to Roland Garros," added 2015 champion Wawrinka. "This is the kind of week that helps you going into a Grand Slam. I had some great matches here this week."