CHENNAI: Top seed and defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka punctured the challenge of Benoit Paire with remarkable ease and set up the Chennai Open title clash with Borna Coric, here today.
Wawrinka literally walked into the summit clash with a dominating 6-3 6-4 win over the French third seed but Coric had to dig deep into his reserves to beat a fighting Aljaz Bedene 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 6-3 in a marathon semifinal that lasted close to three hours.
In seven meetings, it was the sixth win for Wawrinka over Paire and third in a row. The only time the Frenchman, world number 19, managed to beat the Swiss world number four was in 2013 in Canada.
"It's never easy against him. He was serving well, I needed to play my best against him. His backhand was also good. I have played against him a lot and it was not easy," Wawrinka said.
The match was between world number 45 Bedene and Coric, just one place below him, turned out to be a nerve-wracking contest with two players producing high-quality tennis.
After trading a break each the first set was decided by tie-breaker and it was same story in the second set too.
The third set also looked like going full distance but at 3-4 Bedene dropped his serve in the eighth game at love to let slip the match as his backhand sailed over the baseline.
The Croat served out the match in the next game when the Frenchman sent a forehand to net.
Earlier, Paire knew he had to do something different to stop Wawrinka and he employed the strategy of charging to the net. It worked to get some points but was never enough to halt
someone with the calibre of Wawrinka. Paire managed to stay with the French Open champion till the fifth game of the opening set.
However, one such attempt put him down by a breakpoint when he failed to pick a volley off Wawrinka's return, crashing it into the net. Down a breakpoint, he committed a similar error to hand Wawrinka a 4-2 lead.
It became 5-2 with the Swiss holding his own the next game. Paire, though, hit some impressive passing winners which, however, were not many in number.
The top seed closed out the set in the ninth game with a booming serve, clocking 185kmph.
In the second set too, Wawrinka was quick to pounce on the first available opportunity, breaking Paire in the third game. He held his own without any trouble to give himself a 3-1 cushion.
Serving for a 4-2 lead, Wawrinka faced a breakpoint for the first time in the match but saved that with a thunderous serve, breaching the 200kmph mark.
Paire fell down, watching the ball pass him from an unreachable position. It was largely representative of the way the match had gone, dominated by the Swiss.
Paire was struggling with his movement in the eighth game, playing at least two shots without moving an inch and managed to win both and held.
The Swiss served an ace to earn his first match point and converted it when Paire's return kissed the net.
Wawrinka now awaits winner of the other semifinal between Aljaz Bedene and Borna Coric.