Sat, Oct 26, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Back injury forces Wawrinka out of clash with Federer

AFP, BASEL, Switzerland

Stan Wawrinka was forced to withdraw from yesterday’s Basel quarter-final showdown against best friend Roger Federer with a back injury, just an hour after struggling past Frances Tiafoe of the US in a grueling second-round clash.

“The bad news is that I will have to retire,” the 34-year-old three-time Grand Slam winner said after his 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win. “I had some trouble with my back in the last game. I’m sure I cannot make it for tomorrow [Friday]. I will pull out.”

Top seed Federer, chasing a 10th title at his hometown event, is to receive a walkover into today’s semi-finals.

It would have been the 27th meeting between the two Swiss teammates and Federer would have been the comfortable favorite boasting a 23-3 record over their 14-year rivalry.

Wawrinka stands in provisional 14th place in the points race to the year-end ATP Finals and his chances of qualifying now look slim with just next week’s Paris Masters to play on the regular schedule.

Wawrinka’s two-and-a-half-hour struggle against Tiafoe was decided by an 11-minute concluding game and put Wawrinka into his fifth quarter-final at the Swiss tournament.

“I was fighting well. He was playing well. I expected a tough match,” Wawrinka said.

Wawrinka hammered 14 aces — his last two in the penultimate game.

Tiafoe saved a Wawrinka match point with an ace of his own in the final game before the home favorite got the crowd on its feet with a backhand winner down the line to seal the success.

Both players hugged at the net, with Tiafoe receiving a standing ovation from the 9,000-strong crowd.

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached his 13th quarter-final of the year when he came back to claim a 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-4 win over Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis.

The Greek third seed next faces Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, who upset fifth seed Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-4.

The ATP Finals’ hopes of David Goffin stalled as the sixth seed lost to Reilly Opelka 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 7-5, with the young American sending down 29 aces in two-and-a-half hours.

Goffin stands provisional 10th in the race to the eight-man season wrap-up with a final points-earning chance next week in Paris.

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Tsitsipas have already booked their places in the ATP Finals, leaving just two places available.

Roberto Bautista Agut, who sits one spot away from a London invitation, stayed in the chase as he defeated France’s Richard Gasquet 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 and next faces Opelka.

The Spaniard claimed his 40th victory of the season as he works to become a first-time qualifier into the season showpiece in London, which starts on Nov. 10.

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