Stan Wawrinka met Juan Martin del Potro, who won their previous four meetings, for the seventh time in their respective careers. While the Argentine had his chances in this 2016 U.S. Open contest, he couldn’t hold on long enough to get ahead in sets. That ultimately lead to his demise after 3 hours and 14 minutes, 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Wawrinka takes the opener in a tiebreak
An early break point came in the first game for Wawrinka when, at 30-30, del Potro slapped a forehand into the net. That point was quickly followed by an unreturned serve--giving the Argentine a clear path to hold to 1-0. Flipping the scripts, the world number 142 broke serve on his second look via a long rally that ended on a Wawrinka backhand long.
The third game also went del Potro’s way, but he did face quite a fight from his Swiss opponent. After a pair of deuces, the wildcard held to take a 3-0 lead. Wawrinka’s slump finally ended with a commanding love hold; however, his 27-year-old opponent was able to get a love hold of his own to bring the score to 4-1.
Wawrinka’s second hold also came with ease as his opponent only won a single point, but he was still paying for his early slip up. The Swiss star was given a chance to get back on serve after an excellent slice volley at 15-30 gave him double break point. A big serve from del Potro saved the first, but a sliced backhand into the top of the net gave back the Argentine’s advantage. After seven games, the set was back on serve at 4-3.
Another chance to break came in the next game for del Potro, but he couldn’t capitalize--allowing Wawrinka to level the match at four-apiece. The next four games saw easy holds from the two competitors, and the opening set was headed to a tiebreak.
Firing on all cylinders, the third seed jumped out to a 3-0 lead before his opponent volleyed his way onto the scoreboard. Wawrinka, firmly in control of the tiebreak, lead 4-2 at the changeover. That lead would eventually be cut down to one at 5-4, but the Swiss star was serving to end the set. While Wawrinka got to double set point at 6-4, del Potro brought the tiebreak back on serve with a crosscourt pass. That wouldn’t be enough, though, as a forehand error from the Argentine ended the set, 7-6(5).
Del Potro avoids botching another set
Unlike the first set, the second began without much drama. Wawrinka opened with an unchallenged hold at 30. Del Potro also held at 30, and the score remained knotted up after two games. The set would proceed without either player getting a sniff of a break for the next four games.
At 15-30 in the seventh game, Wawrinka slapped a backhand into the net to give del Potro the first pair of break points in the match. An ill-timed challenge threw away the first chance, but the second one would be a different story; the world number three once again fell victim to the net and the set reached its first break.
Leading 4-3, del Potro held at 30 to consolidate the break and get within one game of winning the second set. His Swiss opponent then left no room to be broken with a hold at love--making the score 5-4 in favor of the wildcard. With the set on his racket, the Argentine faced break point at 30-40. The following point ended on a backhand long by Wawrinka, and things began to get a little wild. Despite being on the wrong side of four straight challenge calls, del Potro held and took with him the set, 6-4. That leveled the match at one set apiece.
Wawrinka breaks long string of holds to take third set
Beginning with seven consecutive holds and zero break points, the third set was a pretty routine affair. At 30-30 in the eighth game, the paradigm finally changed. A long rally ended in Wawrinka ripping a forehand down the line to reach break point, and the set found some suspense. While that one didn’t go his way, the Swiss star found another open door when del Potro sent a backhand volley soaring long. The pattern continued with neither player giving an inch. Del Potro finally cracked after four deuces and four break points.
Up a break, at 5-3, Wawrinka ended the set with an ace to hold at 30. Through three sets, the third seed had more winners (41 to 35) and less unforced errors (35 to 39) than his opponent. They did have an even amount of breaks, but the Swiss star saw three more looks.
Wawrinka breaks twice to close out match
It didn’t take long for Wawrinka to see another break point chance; del Potro tried a dropshot at deuce, but it didn’t have enough mustard on it--sending it into the net. A break would come soon after as the Argentine double-faulted the game away. With the crowd solidly on his side, del Potro found himself in good position to find a break point at 0-30; nevertheless, the 27-year-old lost the next three points. A backhand error from Wawrinka instilled some hope in the Argentine at deuce, but it was the next shot--another error from the 31-year-old--that officially brought on a break point. While it took longer than expected, the Swiss star was able to hold by simply not going for unnecessarily risky shots.
The nightmare set for del Potro continued with a double fault at 30-30. Pouncing on another break point, Wawrinka sent a blistering one-handed backhand down the line to take a 3-0 lead. A hold at 30 consolidated the break, and the match appeared to be over. That ended up being the case as the third seed ended the match with a 6-2 fourth set victory.
Advancing to the semifinals, Wawrinka will play Kei Nishikori--who upset Andy Murray in five sets in the other quarterfinal match of the day. The Swiss star came out on top in three of his five career meetings with the Japanese sensation.