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Stan Wawrinka staves off Nakashima in Basel thriller

Basel (Switzerland), Oct 28 (IANS) Stan Wawrinka faced down an inspired comeback from Brandon Nakashima on Thursday at the Swiss Indoors Basel to seal a thrilling 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 second-round win.

Wawrinka appeared set for a straightforward victory in his first tour-level meeting with Nakashima when he served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. American Nakashima had other ideas, raising his level with some high-octane baseline hitting to force a decider, but Wawrinka kept his cool to convert the only break point of the third set and clinch an engrossing two-hour, 12-minute win.

“He battled, of course,” said Wawrinka after the match. “He was playing well, it was a really intense match. He’s a great player and it was tough, the first time playing against each other… I had the chance to close the match at 6-4, 5-4, I couldn’t really find my first serve and he played really well.

“He was aggressive. So it was not easy to come back in the third, but really I am happy with the way I fought again, the way I came back.”

Thursday’s win backed up Wawrinka’s opening-round triumph against second seed Casper Ruud. The former World No. 3 was delighted to seal another victory in front of his home fans and reach the quarterfinals in Basel for the sixth time in 15 appearances.

“I am playing much better than in the past few months and at home the feeling is always special,” Wawrinka was quoted as saying by ATP official website.

“It has been many years that I have been (coming back) to Basel. It was not always easy to play here, I’ve not always played my best tennis and not always found it easy to deliver for the fans.

“Tonight and two nights ago, I think I (played) great and I had amazing support, so it’s really great to be here.”

Wawrinka’s quarterfinal opponent will be Roberto Bautista Agut, who prevailed 6-3, 6-2 against former World No. 1 Andy Murray. Wawrinka and Bautista Agut share a 1-1 ATP Head2Head series record, with Friday’s clash in Basel set to be their first meeting since 2019.

In the final match of the day in Basel, Dane Holger Rune continued his hot streak of form with a 6-4, 6-2 second-round triumph against Ugo Humbert. The 19-year-old converted three from five break points to register his seventh consecutive tour-level win. The Munich and Stockholm champion will meet Arthur Rinderknech in the quarterfinals as he continues his bid for his third ATP Tour title of the season.

–IANS

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