Following impressive performances in their third round match-ups on Thursday afternoon, Stan Wawrinka and France’s Julien Benneteau will meet for a spot in the final four at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. This is just the fourth time these two will meet on the ATP World Tour, with Benneteau leading the head-to-head series 2-1.
While he did not get off to the best of starts, world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka rebounded to win the next two sets and get past Croatia’s Marin Cilic. The second set was particularly dominant, as Wawrinka dropped just three service points en route to the 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 victory over Cilic. Stan hit a total of 7 aces, won 83% of his first service points and saved al three of the break points he faced after the opening set to close out the victory in exactly 83 minutes of court time.
“He was playing really well at the beginning,” said Wawrinka. “I tried to focus on my serve and tried to be a little bit more aggressive. I was moving better and made him move a lot. He was struggling a little bit with his arm and couldn’t serve full speed. I was more relaxed with myself and moving better [in the second set]. When I am moving right, I give myself more time to play and then I can control the game. I had a great time out there today.”
France’s Julien Benneteau continued his inspired performances over the US hard court season by quickly dispatching Polish No. 1 Jerzy Janowicz 7-5, 6-1 to secure his spot in the quarter-final round of the tournament. The Frenchman fended off all three of his opponent’s attempted breaks of serve and won 78% of his first service points to secure the victory in 74 minutes.
This is just the fourth time these two competitors will cross paths on the professional circuit, with Benetteau leading the series 2-1. They met meet twice more but one was a qualifying round match in Montreal, while the other was on the Challenger circuit over a decade ago. Benneteau actually holds two conwecutive wins over Wawrinka, including a win in Cincinnati back in 2010. It will be interesting to see how this match plays out, as Benneteau has been on the rise while Wawrinka still appears shaky during portions of his matches.
Prediction: Julien Bennetea in Three Sets