ATP Monte-Carlo: Stan Wawrinka made to work hard, but impresses, as he sees off Jiri Vesely

Despite putting in an impressive performance, Stan Wawrinka was made to earn his place in the third round of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters following a strong second set performance by Jiri Vesely.

Wawrinka was in cruise control in the first set, taking it 6-2, and though he was forced into a decider after just one hour, the 2014 champion regained control in the decider to secure a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 victory.

Vesely was evidently a danger coming into this clash, having beaten Novak Djokovic at this stage last year, but the Czech was ultimately too inconsistent to pull off the upset, hitting 33 unforced errors to just 20 winners as he failed to make an impact in the first or third set.

Whilst Wawrinka may be frustrated with being forced to a third set, he surely must be happy with a performance that saw 32 winners and only 14 unforced errors, and will go in as a strong favorite against 16th seed Pablo Cuevas in the next round.

Wawrinka survives brief blip to ease through opening set

Wawrinka was the big favorite heading to this match and in the opening set it evidently showed, as, despite a brief blip, the Swiss eased to the opening set 6-2 against Vesely, who never really got going.

It was the Swiss who draw first blood, breaking in the fourth game of the match for a 3-1 lead, though the former French Open champion faltered slightly as a poor game saw him hand the break immediately back to the Czech.

Wawrinka, however, quickly regrouped, as he regained his composure and easily retained his break advantage, from which he would never look back. The third seed comfortably held to force Vesely to serve to stay in the set, and the pressure was seemingly too much for the Czech, handing Wawrinka a set point which he duly took with a scintillating backhand return winner.

Vesely improves rapidly to level the match

After a rough first set, there were some positive signs early on for Vesely, though he was unable to find any opportunities on Wawrinka’s serve, with the Swiss easing through his opening three service games.

Jiri Vesely hits a forehand during his loss to Stan Wawrinka (Getty/Clive Brunskill)
Jiri Vesely hits a forehand during his loss to Stan Wawrinka (Getty/Clive Brunskill)

Vesely could have easily been out of this match in his opening service game, saving two break points to secure a crucial hold before putting in two comfortable holds of his own to stay in touch with the 2014 champion.

With the Czech fastly improving on the tennis he was playing in the first set, it seemed the pressure started to get to Wawrinka, with a combination of some great tennis from Vesely and some poor tennis of his own, including a double fault of his own on break point, saw Vesely up in any of the sets for the first time, and held firm as he served it out to take the match to a decider after just an hour.

Wawrinka restores order to progress

It would have been understandable for Wawrinka to be extremely frustrated after the second set; he did not play badly at all, hitting 16 winners to only 10 unforced errors, though the Swiss kept his composure to avoid the upset.

Four games into the set, Vesely blinked, losing his serve to give Wawrinka, who had comfortably held serve on both occasions, a 3-1 lead which he never really looked like surrendering.

He was made to work hard to consolidate the break, holding from deuce, and after a comfortable service game, he was simply too strong for Vesely when the Czech was serving to stay in it, with a double fault seeing the Swiss progress.