The unexpected 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, who took the tour by storm over the past year, will begin his title defense in Melbourne with the hopes of a successful fortnight at the Happy Slam. The Swiss No. 2 and fourth seed at the event is scheduled to open his campaign against Marsel Ilhan, whom he has never previously faced on the professional tour.
In accordance with his 2014 trajectory to the season-opening Grand Slam, Stan Wawrinka began his season with a title defense at the Chennai Open, where he is now a three-time champion. He defeated Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4 in a contest that lasted 69 minutes on Sunday afternoon. The Swiss star faced no break points and needed just one match point to close out the contest and give himself the necessary momentum heading into the Australian Open.
“I feel really happy,” said Wawrinka. “It’s tough to win tournaments on the ATP Tour. I feel good, with more confidence [and] feeling well with my game. I’m happy with my game in general, but it’s just the beginning of the season and I hope I can play well all [of] the season.”
World No. 99 Marsel Ilhan of Uzbekistan will look to play spoiler in the opening round in Melbourne when he faces the defending champion. He began his year in Brisbane, but failed to reach the maind raw of the event, falling in the third round of the qualifiers against Marius Copil.
This is set to be the first time that Wawrinka and Ilhan will cross paths on the tour, and is not a particularly challenging contest for Wawrinka. While anyone is capable of surprising a targeted champion, this is unlikely to be the case here. Wawrinka looked to be in-form and was playing with relative ease in India, and will have likely focused on intense preparation over the past couple of weeks.
Prediction: Stan Wawrinka in Straight Sets