Under-the-radar Wawrinka lines up potential Djokovic clash in New York

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Stan Wawrinka (pic) celebrates after match point against Paolo Lorenzi of Italy in the third round on day five of the 2019 US Open tennis tournament in New York August 30, 2019. ― Picture by Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters
Stan Wawrinka (pic) celebrates after match point against Paolo Lorenzi of Italy in the third round on day five of the 2019 US Open tennis tournament in New York August 30, 2019. ― Picture by Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

NEW YORK, Aug 31 ― Stan Wawrinka is on a collision course with reigning US Open champion Novak Djokovic after the Swiss star returned to the fourth round yesterday for the first time since capturing the 2016 title.

The 34-year-old Wawrinka, seeded 23rd in New York, beat Italian lucky loser Paolo Lorenzi 6-4, 7-6 (11/9), 7-6 (7/4) and will meet either world number one Djokovic or American Denis Kudla in the last 16.

“It was a tough match for sure,” said Wawrinka, who smacked 64 winners against 135th-ranked Lorenzi.

“I’m happy to get through and am just trying to focus on my game. I wasn’t at my best level but am happy with the fight and win.”

Wawrinka needed five sets to come through his opener against Italian qualifier Jannik Sinner and was then made to play on consecutive days after rain disrupted the schedule, his victory over Lorenzi coming 24 hours after he beat Jeremy Chardy in four sets.

“Physically I feel really good after back-to-back matches. The most important thing is to get through those matches,” he said.

Wawrinka, who slipped out of the world’s top 250 last year after months of struggles with knee injuries, said the long road back taught him to savor playing on the biggest stages even more.

“It’s amazing, it’s great. I won here in the past which was something really special for me,” he said.

“The reason I came back from injury was to get these matches, these emotions.” ― AFP