• Monday, Sep 24, 2018
  • Last Update : 05:23 pm

Wawrinka tames heat and young Frenchman at US Open

  • Published at 11:08 am August 30th, 2018
Stan Wawrinka
Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland hits to Ugo Humbert (not pictured) of France in a second round match on day three of the 2018 US Open tennis tournament at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Reuters

Wawrinka, who won the US Open in 2016 but was unable to defend his title last year after undergoing knee surgery, had his fitness put to the test by the 20-year-old Humbert playing in his first Tour level event

Stan Wawrinka fought off punishing heat and a youthful challenge from French qualifier Ugo Humbert to earn a 7-6(5) 4-6 6-3 7-5 win on Wednesday and a spot in the US Open third round.

With temperatures at thee Billie Jean King National Tennis Center once again nudging towards 38C, Wawrinka and Humbert battled for nearly three hours and 30 minutes in the shadeless oven that is the Grandstand Stadium court.

Wawrinka, who won the US Open in 2016 but was unable to defend his title last year after undergoing knee surgery, had his fitness put to the test by the 20-year-old Humbert playing in his first Tour level event.

"My level is there. I'm playing really good tennis," said Wawrinka. "I'm 33-years-old, first time after big surgery that I'm pushing myself that much, but in general, I think I did enough hard work to know and have confidence in my fitness.

"I think there is good chance that I'm playing better the next round than today, so I'm positive with that."

Humbert let the three-times grand slam-winning Swiss know he was in for a long and sweaty afternoon after the first set went to a tiebreak and he levelled the match by taking the second.

Wawrinka, however, lived up to reputation as a battler and grimly hung on to take the next two sets.

"It is a battle to play a player that never played before, a young player," said the Swiss wildcard. "He's been playing really well this summer, doesn't give you a lot of rhythm.

"It was a great battle. Was for sure tough fitness-wise but I think I handled it pretty well.

Wawrinka, who beat eighth seed Grigor Dimitrov in the opening round, now faces 25th seed Milos Raonic after the big-hitting Canadian blasted past Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-3 6-4 6-4.