On the comeback trail, Stan Wawrinka gets by Nick Kyrgios in Toronto

by: Nina Pantic | August 07, 2018

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TORONTO—On Tuesday at the Rogers Cup, Stan Wawrinka got a much-needed win over a still-injured Nick Kyrgios. The Swiss, ranked a lowly No. 195, has struggled to collect victories during his second comeback attempt of 2018. 

"I'm grateful I got the wild card to play directly in the main draw," Wawrinka said. "I knew it was going to be a tough match.

"Winning 1-6, 7-5, 7-5, it's great for me. Any victory is good to get more confidence."

Kyrgios was all over the place with drop shots, tweeners, slap-shot winners over 115 m.p.h., and one powerfully launched ball right out of the stadium. It looked like the No. 17-ranked Aussie would run away with the match, but after a tepid start, Wawrinka was rejuvenated in the second and third sets.

"I think after the first set I start moving better, being more aggressive on my serve, having those little step inside the courts [made it] a bit better to get more points for myself," Wawrinka said. "And that made a difference with me for my game."

With his hip clearly bothering him, Kyrgios was more locked in during the third set. But just when he needed to focus the most, he let fly two wild errors on his serve at 5-6 to go down double match point. He let rip a huge ace to save one, then went for a second-serve-and return play—where he fumbled a routine volley, letting it bounce limply onto his side of the court. 

"Stan, for him to get through matches like this, healthy, no pain, that's a good sign for him," Kyrgios said. "He's playing a good level. He's got a world-class backhand and matches like this are going to give him confidence.

"But, no, I can't take any positives away from this at all."

Wawrinka and Kyrgios have quite a history together. Going into Tuesday they were 2-2 in head-to-head matches, but had only completed two of those contests. For a little while on Tuesday, it looked like their latest encounter would also end in a retirement, as a laboring Kyrgios and needed a medical timeout on his left hip. 

"My hip is, obviously, a little bit sore," Kyrgios said. "That's why I called the trainer on the court. So it's pretty self-explanatory."

Of course, the history you want to hear about with these two is from this very tournament (in Montreal) in 2015, when off-color comments Kyrgios muttered under his breath blew up into a worldwide scandal. But let’s let bygones be bygones—they certainly have. Lately, the only negative news Kyrgios has been involved in is about the elbow and hip injuries marring what’s been a great 2018 season for him. 

Wawrinka can certainly relate. The 32-year-old underwent two left knee surgeries and took a hiatus from Wimbledon until the Australian Open. Then he stepped away again for three months. 

"It's never easy to play against [Kyrgios]," the former world No. 3 said. "He doesn't give you a lot of freedom. He can serve big. Games can go really quickly on his side like he did. For sure he's struggling physically since in three weeks I saw."

Instead of thinking about Kyrgios on the court, Wawrinka worried only about himself, a strategy that paid off in all the big moments.

"For me, it was important to stay focused on myself, on my game," Wawrinka said. "I'm looking for confidence. I'm looking for matches."

He'll get at least one more in Toronto against Marton Fucsovics on Wednesday. 

ATP Toronto
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev headline the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Watch live coverage from four courts on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday, August 6th at 11:00 A.M.

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