Three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka begins his Acapulco title quest on Monday night when he comes up against Frances Tiafoe.
?? Stan Wawrinka vs ?? Frances Tiafoe Match Info
Date: Monday February 24
Tournament: ATP Acapulco R1
Time: 8.00pm local time (2.00am GMT)
Stan Wawrinka vs Frances Tiafoe Head-to-Head
Wawrinka leads 1-0
2019 | Basel R16 | Wawrinka 6-3 3-6 7-5
Stan Wawrinka vs Frances Tiafoe Match Preview
Wawrinka is still searching for his first hardcourt title since the 2016 U.S. Open and first silverware of any description since 2017 – will the Swiss snap his drought at the 500-level Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco this week?
Seeded for a semi-final showdown with Rafael Nadal, it will certainly be an almighty challenge, but Wawrinka has been slowly but surely returning to the sort of form that saw him land three Grand Slam titles over the last few months.
Returning to action from double knee surgery was a slow grind, but Wawrinka finally began to pick up some steam towards the end of 2019, reaching the U.S. Open quarter-finals and finishing runner-up to Andy Murray in Antwerp to return to the top 20, however injury – ironically sustained against Tiafoe in Basel – stopped any chance he had of qualifying for the ATP Finals in London.
Wawrinka began his 2020 season with a semi-final showing in Doha (the Swiss was one of the few top players who didn’t play the ATP Cup due to Roger Federer pulling out), but he produced an impressive level at the Australian Open, knocking out fourth seed Daniil Medvedev in five sets before going down to Alexander Zverev in four sets in the quarter-finals.
That’s back-to-back slam quarter-finals for Wawrinka, who comes into Acapulco at No. 16 in the rankings. Will it be a winning return to action as the Swiss plays his first match since the Australian Open on Monday night?
Tiafoe meanwhile is really struggling for a consistent level on tour right now and has fallen to No. 82 in the world heading into Acapulco – and that ranking could drop out of the top 100 soon, with the American defending Masters 1000 quarter-final points in Miami next month.
The 22-year-old appeared set for a swift rise into the top 20 after a brilliant start to 2019 in which he made that aforementioned Miami quarter-final, but more impressively, reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open, taking out the likes of Grigor Dimitrov and Kevin Anderson along the way. Tiafoe became the youngest American since 2003 to make it to the quarter-final stage of a major and Masters 1000 event, but after hitting a career-high ranking of No. 29 in February, he only won 13 more tour-level matches for the season.
Tiafoe lost his first three matches of the season in the opening rounds of Doha, Auckland and the Australian Open, causing him to drop down to Challenger level in search of confidence and wins – but even that didn’t work too well, with the American losing in the Round of 16 in Newport Beach and the quarter-finals of Dallas. Tiafoe did however claim his first ATP wins of 2020 in Delray Beach last week, beating Emilio Gomez and Tommy Paul, but he suffered a crushing 6-1 6-2 loss to Ugo Humbert in the quarter-finals.
Stan Wawrinka vs Frances Tiafoe Prediction
Tiafoe is capable of beating top players when at his best, but he’s struggling to find a balance in his explosive game at the moment – and he’s paying the price, with his ranking falling rapidly. The atmosphere in Acapulco plays into Tiafoe’s character, and with Wawrinka playing his first match since Melbourne, it wouldn’t surprise me if the American worked his way into a winning position. However, big wins have eluded Tiafoe over the last 12 months or so, so Wawrinka in three seems the most likely outcome to me.