Stan Wawrinka will hope to continue his French Open preparations when he takes Marton Fucsovics in Geneva where he is the two-time defending champion. Wawrinka was the runner-up in Paris last year, but he has endured a difficult period since due to injury, and missed the second half of the season after an early loss at Wimbledon, eventually having knee surgery. His return has not proven easy, and Wawrinka has played just one other tournament since February. But will Fucsovics have enough to stop him?
Wawrinka and Fucsovics have never before met competitively, with the Hungarian having spent the majority of his career so far playing below Tour-level. As a result, he has far less experience on Tour than the decorated Swiss. Fucsovics has just 31 career victories to his name, compared with Wawrinka’s 469. He has never before reached a Tour-level final, whereas Wawrinka has 16 titles, including three Grand Slams.
However, Fucsovics is rather more battle-hardened this year than his opponent. The world #60 has already played nineteen Tour-level matches this year, and has won nine of them. He also reached the final of a Challenger in Canberra earlier in the year, losing narrowly in three sets to Andreas Seppi in the final. Wawrinka has managed back-to-back wins just once so far since his return from injury, reaching the semifinals in Sofia. There can be little doubt that he is short of match sharpness.
Path to the quarterfinals
Wawrinka, despite having played just eight matches coming into Geneva this year, is still ranked 25th in the world which was high enough to land him the third seed in Geneva. That gave him a first round bye, and saw him begin his campaign against Jared Donaldson. It was the second time in as many weeks that Wawrinka had found himself up against American opposition. But whilst Houston champion Steve Johnson was too strong in Rome, backed by the Swiss crowd Wawrinka dispatched Donaldson 6-3 6-4.
Fucsovics, unseeded, began his tournament with a convincing win against the struggling Spaniard, fifth seed Albert Ramos Vinolas. The Hungarian dropped just three games in a 6-1 6-2 win as Ramos Vinolas struggles deepened. Fucsovics backed that victory up with another impressive win, this time against the American young gun Frances Tiafoe, who won a maiden title earlier in the season in Delray Beach. But Fucsovics bested him in straight sets 7-5 6-4 to set up the clash with Wawrinka.
How do they match up?
Wawrinka at his peak was one of the most dangerous attacking baseliners in the game. He proved himself able to hit through the very best in the sport, getting the better of Djokovic twice and Nadal once in Major finals. The centrepiece of his impressive arsenal is his one-handed backhand that he hits harder than anyone else on the Tour. The shot looked impressive against Donaldson, with the Swiss catching one down-the-line particularly sweetly.
Fucsovics cannot match Wawrinka for power. But the 26-year-old, who was a champion at Wimbledon as a junior is a skilful player, who looks reasonably comfortable on all surfaces. He impressed earlier in the season in reaching the fourth round in Melbourne, there providing Roger Federer with a respectable challenge in defeat. However, Fucsovics may lack the power needed to challenge Wawrinka on a clay court, where the slower surface will provide the Swiss with ample opportunities to wind up for big groundstrokes.
Wawrinka’s comeback is still very much in its early stages, and the Swiss is likely regretting his attempts to return earlier in the year, which were perhaps too hasty. But Wawrinka claimed he missed competing, and he looked back in his element in defeating Donaldson, who is not without clay court pedigree. He will also likely get past Fucsovics, whose style looks ill-suited to this match up on this surface. Wawrinka in straight sets.