Thu, Aug 02, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Wawrinka out in Citi Open first round

FIRST ROUND:Stan Wawrinka’s issue is no longer a knee injury, but the doubt that can creep up at key points in a match. ‘It’s just tough — it’s a long process,’ he said

AP, WASHINGTON

Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland returns to Donald Young of the US in their Citi Open first-round match in Washington on Tuesday.

Photo: AP

Stan Wawrinka’s surgically repaired left knee is just fine. What is missing for the three-time major champion as he goes through a difficult season is the self-belief that comes with success.

Wawrinka’s latest quick exit came on Tuesday night at the Citi Open, a 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/3) loss against 234th-ranked qualifier Donald Young of the US in the first round of the hard-court tournament.

“I was missing a lot. Not feeling the way I wanted. I’m looking for confidence, for sure,” said Wawrinka, who has been ranked No. 3, but is merely 198th at the moment on account of a 6-11 record this year after two knee operations last year. “It’s tough to not win a lot of matches. Then you start to think too much on the court.”

It was Wawrinka’s first match since bowing out of Wimbledon in the second round early last month. His ranking is so low that he needed a wild-card entry just to get into qualifying for his next event, in Toronto. The only other time Wawrinka entered the US Open tuneup in Washington, in 2010, he also lost his opener.

Right now, his issue is the doubt that can creep up at key points in a match.

“I feel I’m really close but, at the same time, really far. The positive right now is that physically, I’m feeling good. Tennis-wise, I’m practicing well. I can put [in] a lot of work on the court,” said Wawrinka, who has won the US Open, Australian Open and French Open once apiece. “I know and I’m sure I will get where I want to be. It’s just tough — it’s a long process and you have to accept [it].”

He and Young, who came into the day with just a 2-10 record this year, were supposed to play on Monday night, but due to rain delays and a lengthy match before theirs they only made it onto the court to warm up at 1am. Then a downpour arrived, so the contest was postponed.

Wawrinka got broken in the first game on Tuesday by dumping a forehand into the net. That turned out to be the match’s only break. Wawrinka was then two points from losing at 5-3 in the second-set tiebreaker, but a series of miscues by Young, including a double fault at 5-4 sent them to a third set.

This time, Young held on, and he was set to face 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori yesterday.

“Fought a lot of nerves there, but I’m happy the end result was a ‘W,’” Young said. “Closing matches is kind of like a skill you get from winning and I haven’t done that — but I was able to do that.”

No. 1 seed and defending champion Alexander Zverev took the first set against Malek Jaziri 6-2 in the main stadium’s final match when play was suspended for the night after 1am because of rain. They were to resume the match yesterday.

In earlier action, local product Denis Kudla — who is staying this week at his parents’ home in nearby Arlington, Virginia — collected his first victory in seven attempts at the Citi Open, coming back to beat Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-7 (3/7), 6-1, 6-4.

“This is always a place that I’ve wanted to win and I’ve always struggled here. My record was pretty awful coming into today,” said Kudla, who had been 0-4 in main-draw matches and 0-2 in qualifying at the tournament. “Today it just came together.”

Marcos Baghdatis, the 2010 runner-up, advanced with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Benoit Paire, who drew boos from spectators after a racket-breaking tantrum. Vasek Pospisil, a finalist in 2014, lost to 19-year-old Alex de Minaur 6-7 (6/8), 6-2, 6-3.

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