When David wins, it makes for a story. Goliath prevailing again is just things going by the script. But then, if you don’t control the narrative playing against a man who is in his first ATP final, then you wouldn’t be much of a world number four now, would you?
Stan Wawrinka dismissed Borna Coric 6-3, 7-5 in an hour and 26 minutes of clinical tennis. Now, the total match hours both players have been out on court here this week makes for an interesting little anecdote. With his first round bye, the top-seeded Wawrinka spent just three hours and 16 minutes in total to earn his final berth. His quickest outing lasted just 53 minutes. Coric, on the other hand, made it to the final after four matches -- nine hours and 16 minutes of gruelling competitive tennis. This David wasn’t really at his freshest to slay the Goliath.
LETTING IT SNAP
Coric has been labelled the hottest young item on the ATP circuit. The 19-year-old was the only teenager to end last year in the top-50. He proved his mettle in the semifinals against Alijaz Bedene 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-3 in three-odd hours. Coupled with the humidity here, it appears the effort left him a bit depleted. He did not turn it up on Sunday. Perhaps he was a bit stifled as it was his first final. Or perhaps it was just the sheer dominance of the man on the other side that made it difficult for him to crank up the volume. After all, you hit the ball that has been dictated by the guy across the net. And Wawrinka does spell them out into the far reaches of the court. The only time he lost his cool on Sunday was when his freshly strung racquet string broke and he went on one long rant to vent his ire. It earned him a code violation and a shrug from the organisers for, after all, the same stringers have been keeping him happy enough for him to keep coming back eight years in a row.
WORK IN PROGRESS
As Coric summed up at the post match ceremony when asked what part of Wawrinka’s game was trouble for him: “That’ll be the serve, backhand, forehand and the volleys, eh?” That he is supposed to be the next big man in tennis isn’t fazing him. “It’s also extra motivation.” And he is not too impressed by himself. “I can improve in every part of the game. I haven’t reached my maximum in any shot.” This is refreshing. Most players never admit to such stuff and instead choose to usually blame an off day or a rampant opponent.
Wawrinka, whose eight straight appearances have made him quite the crowd favourite here seemed to allude to more appearance money by urging the packed house to “put pressure on them (organisers) and I will come back next year”. While he earned $75,700 (R50 lakh) for his win, it’s an open secret that top players are paid twice if not thrice that much just to show up. In fact, appearance money stays the biggest expense for most such small tournaments for the big stars won’t even deign to look their way if not for the extra cash.
Chennai Open to carry on
The Chennai Open will run on for three more years. One suspects that all the noise about the tournament being on the verge of ending its tryst with Chennai is largely a ploy by the organisers to get the support of the government going. But for Indian tennis fans, the good bit is that there is at least one annual pilgrimage that allows them to witness some of the demi-gods of tennis to come frolic in their own backyard.