Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka will attempt to alter his misfortunes on clay this season, as he is scheduled to face Joao Sousa in his opening match at the Madrid Masters. It will mark just the second time the two Europeans will meet on the World Tour following their first encounter last year at Wimbledon. Wawrinka leads the head-to-head series 1-0.
Following a turbulent first quarter of the season that included a first round loss at Indian Wells, a second round loss in Miami, a failed title defence bid in Australia and only one title to his name (Rotterdam), Wawrinka began his clay court season hoping for a positive upswing. Instead, he was handed a 6-1, 6-2 thrashing by Grigor Dimitrov that had him unceremoniously eliminated from the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters event.
The Swiss No. 2, who won Monte Carlo last season for his first ever Masters 1000 event, recently came public with personal issues that seemingly impacted his performances, so it will be interesting to see if he has adjusted over the past few weeks.
In a surprisingly swift effort, Joao Sousa downed Polish no. 1 Jerzy Janowicz in straight sets to advance to the second round of the Madrid Masters. The Brazilian withstood 10 aces from Janowicz, won 88% of his first service point and saved all three of the break points he faced to earn the 6-4, 7-5 victory in one hour and 27 minutes.
This is the second time that Sousa and Wawrinka will meet on the ATP World Tour and it could make for a very interesting contest. While Wawrinka won their only meeting on the tour last season at Wimbledon, the Brazilian is a far different competitor on clay. Given that Wawrinka has not been his best recently, this is certainly a match to keep an eye on Tuesday.
Prediction: Stan Wawrinka in Three Sets