Wawrinka sets up clash with Cilic in Chennai Open final (Lead)

January 10th, 2010 - 1:28 am ICT by IANS  

By Anand Philar
Chennai, Jan 9 (IANS) Stanislas Wawrinka, the Swiss No.2 and third seed, Saturday came through a punishing slugfest that lasted two-and-a-half hours against Israel’s Dudi Sala 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, and set up a clash with defending champion Marin Cilic in the final of the $400,000 ATP Aircel Chennai Open tennis tournament to be played here Sunday.

In the semi-finals Saturday, Wawrinka, 24, a first round loser here last year, was pushed to the edge by the battling Sala in a pot-boiler of a contest in sharp contrast to Croat Cilic’s clinical demolition of Janko Tipsarevic (Serbia) 6-1, 6-3 earlier.

Wawrinka, the doubles gold medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Sela, seeking his maiden entry into ATP Tour final, dished out some entertaining tennis with the Swiss finally coming to terms with his inconsistency.

The 24-year-old Israeli, ranked 43, scurried about the court like an eager beaver chasing down every ball while Wawrinka virtually camped on the baseline and called the shots. That apart, there was little separating the two, but Wawrinka always looked the better organised player.

Though neither looked like breaking each other serve, the decisive moment in the first set came in the ninth game when Wawrinka breached Sela’s defence with a few precision shots to the corners to go 5-4 up and then held serve to wrap up the set.

The start of the second set saw a determined Sela stepping in much more than he did earlier and broke Wawrinka for early initiative. The Swiss No.2 looked a different player thereafter as he struggled to hold serve and was broken in the seventh as Sela went 5-2 up before serving out the set.

The decider had a rousing start with breaks of serve in the third and fourth games as the two continued to slug it out toe-to-toe. With the games going to serve, Wawrinka led 6-5 and then broke Sela with a couple of searing shots to the corners to emerge winner.

Earlier, the 21-year old Cilic, ranked 14th and seeded second here, had won all the three previous meetings with Tipsarevic and looked well set to retain the title.

The 25-year-old 38th ranked Tipsarevic who had lost to Cilic in the quarter-finals here last year, yielded ground to a far superior opponent who served consistently well and had more ammunition in his armoury.

The 84-minute match was marked by long rallies with Cilic looking that much better equipped given the variety and range in his shots as he repeatedly caught Tipsarevic off-guard with subtle change of pace and angles.

In the event, Tipsarevic did most of the running while Cilic used his huge reach to advantage besides serving well and mixing up his shots.

Cilic was off to a good start in the first set when he broke Tipsarevic in the third game and again in the sixth to seize the advantage.

The Croat showed greater variety in his shots and committed fewer mistakes in the set while Tipsarevic, struggling to get his service game going, was far too inconsistent to make an impact.

Cilic broke Tipsarevic in the very first game of the second set. However, the Serb showed some spark and looked set to break back when he led 30-0 on Cilic’s serve. But a few unforced errors by Tipsarevic and a netchord return saw the Croat not only catch but also win the game with a great serve wide to the forehand.

Thereafter, games went with serve and the early break meant Cilic remained in front while Tipsarevic never quite looked the part and gradually faded away from the contest, dropping his serve in the ninth game after saving a match point.

Late Friday night, Cilic survived a first set tie-break to beat Stephane Giraldo (France) 7-6 (3), 6-1, in the quarter-final match that was considerably delayed due to rains.

The results:

Singles - semi-finals: 2-Marin Cilic (Croatia) bt 4-Janko Tipsarevic (Serbia) 6-1, 6-3; 3-Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland) bt 5-Dudi Sela (Israel) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.

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