Stanislas Wawrinka warmed up Sunday for the defence of his Australian Open title by winning the ATP Chennai Open for a second straight year and for the third time since 2011.
The Swiss world number four ended Slovenian qualifier Aljaz Bedene’s giant-killing feats in the season-opening $450,000 event with a 6-3, 6-4 win in a 69-minute final.
Some 4,000 Indian fans at the Nungambakkam tennis stadium cheered wildly as the popular Wawrinka, making his seventh appearance in Chennai, outplayed Bedene.
“This has been a perfect week for me,” the genial Swiss said in broken English. “I served well and hit the ball good.
“It is amazing to win for the third time here, but I have to continue like this in (the) future also.”
Wawrinka pocketed $73,400 and 250 ranking points for his efforts. But his biggest gain was a perfect tune-up for the Australian Open, which starts in Melbourne on January 19.
“I am very happy with my game and I should have good practice when I get to Melbourne in two days time and will be ready when the Open starts,” he said.
The 29-year-old did not drop a single set in the tournament, seemingly beginning the new season with the same zeal he showed by helping Switzerland win its maiden Davis Cup title last year.
Wawrinka had followed his win over Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France in last year’s Chennai Open final by beating Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final three weeks later.
– ‘Chennai’s lucky charm’ –
“Chennai is a lucky charm for sure,” he said. “This is a special place for me and I always enjoy coming back here. I hope I can do as well in Melbourne as I did last year.”
Wawrinka said he was still a long way away from reaching the standards of players like compatriot Roger Federer or stars like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
“Guys like those have been winning big tournaments for so long, I have managed just one Grand Slam so far,” he said.
“Today was only my second title since last April, so I know I have a long way to go.”
Wawrinka wrapped up the first set in 30 minutes with a break in the sixth game in which he unleashed two lethal backhands down the line to leave Bedene stranded.
Bedene, hoping to become the first Slovenian to win an ATP Tour title, gifted a break in the seventh game of the second set when he double-faulted and then let Wawrinka smash an easy forehand winner.
Bedene had entered his first Tour final after coming through the qualifiers to scalp three Spanish seeds in number two Feliciano Lopez, number three Roberto Bautista-Agut and number five Guillermo Garcia Lopez.
Bedene, who earned $38,650 and 150 points for winning three qualifying matches and four more in the main draw, said the tournament had boosted his confidence like never before.
“This has to be the best week of my career,” he said. “Maybe I was a bit tired today. I could not sleep well last night because I was just thinking of my first final.
“But then Stan showed what a great player he is. There is a lot to learn from him.”
Also on Sunday, Jonathan Marray of Britain and Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan won the doubles title defeating the top-seeded pair of India’s Leander Paes and Raven Klassen of South Africa 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).