As the tournament winds down to its climax on Sunday, its hot spots begin to go cold. The practice courts are deserted as compared to the hustle and buzz of Monday, the tournament hotel is no longer full of tall sinewy men piling up humongous portions at the buffet table and, suddenly, from fighting for space to put out a yoga mat, the gym has gone cold and silent too.
Dour Stan Wawrinka beat his good friend Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-4 in an insipid match. Wawrinka’s game is positively thrilling but the man himself isn’t.
Regulation answers to interesting questions and a decided inability to see the humour in a situation makes this man quite boring off the court.
Dispelling the notion that he considers the Chennai Open a lucky charm — given that he has been coming here for eight straight years and his tennis fortunes have gone on a huge upswing since then — Wawrinka refused to play to the crowd and dimmed their enthusiasm with another dour: “I am not superstitious”. Right, then.
It was left to Alijaz Bedene and 19-year-old Borna Coric to rekindle the proceedings and the spectators. The latter prevailed 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-3 to become the youngest finalist on the tour since Kei Nishikori made it all the way to the 2008 Delray Beach title.
The Croat carries on the tradition of former Iron Curtain countries churning out tennis players with assembly line regularity.
ATP informs that the last teenage finalist too was a Croat: Marin Cilic (2008, New Haven). It was an enthralling match with both players on top of their game — three hours plus of a brutal slugfest. Coric wanted to win more. Much more than the Englishman did. He refused to give in. Bad stomach, shady line calls or a resurgent Bedene — nothing cowed him down.
The spirit that this youngster shows promises that he will be a player to reckon with in the future.