Alongside Dominic Thiem, Stan Wawrinka is the other slam winner that will be taking part in the Marbella Challenger this week. It will be his first match after a year out and it’s fair to say he could have had better draw luck with Elias Ymer being his opening round opponent. Wawrinka may well be in the last hurrah of his career but will have ample opportunity beyond this event to have one last go at things.
Wawrinka’s injury woes had continued after suffering a foot injury last year and he has not played since Qatar last year. His performances had been inconsistent for a good while but there had been glimpses prior to 2021 of his old self. He will need to pace himself in this last return with clay courts likely to be taxing on his body at this stage.
Still only 25, Ymer has failed to fully build on the expectations set for himself as a junior slam winner. The Swede has bounced between challengers and the main tour, most recently failing to qualify in both Indian Wells and Miami. He also managed the best result of his career in Pune this year, making the semi final with a win against Aslan Karatsev along the way.
While his brother Mikael has passed him by for now, Elias’ further improving on the tour cannot be written off and he may well finally break into the top 100 with a bit of luck this year. Clay has produced better results for him at Challenger level with five titles compared to three on hard courts. He definitely has the game to frustrate a rusty Wawrinka and it would not be surprising if he grinds the win out against an opponent whose body may not quite be up the task just yet.
Prediction – Elias Ymer in three sets