Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic contested the final of the Geneva Open in a match between Grand Slam champions.
After a perfect start to his 2016 campaign with a title run in Chennai, and another victory weeks later in Dubai, Wawrinka’s torrid pace slowed down over the course of his next five tournaments. At those events—all at the Masters 1000 level—the Swiss posted a 5-5 record, with his best showing a quarterfinal in Monte Carlo.
With the Geneva Open his last chance to build up momentum before the French Open, Wawrinka lived up to his billing as the top seed and advanced to the final with the loss of only one set. Perhaps playing at even sharper level during the week was his foe in the last round, Cilic. The Croatian didn’t drop a set, which included a win over the number-two seed David Ferrer in the semifinals, in his first clay tournament of the year after missing time due to a knee injury.
Playing in his first career final in his home country, Wawrinka secured an early break to go up 2-1 in the opening set. It was a strong start for the world No. 4, seeking his 10th win in 12 career matches against Cilic, as he rode out the early break to take the opener 6-4.
The last time Cilic won a set from Wawrinka on clay was in their first encounter a decade earlier in Umag. Aiming to reverse that trend, Cilic raced out to a 4-1 lead in the second, but Wawrinka—the defending French Open champ—rallied to get things back on serve with a break of his own down 3-5.
Eventually, the set went to a tiebreak, where Cilic got off to a strong start and reached set point, up 6-5. Wawrinka erased it with a backhand winner down the line and as the two battled on, the home favorite fought off more set points before clinching the title up 12-11 when Cilic missed on a backhand of his own. It was Wawrinka’s first title on clay since winning the French a year earlier.
This was the second time in Cilic’s career that he lost two or more finals in a year before winning a title. The only other time it happened was in 2011, when he reached three championship matches before winning in October that year.
For the third straight year, Wawrinka won three or more tournaments.
Wawrinka came out on top in a final for the 10th straight time after going 4-9 at that stage to start off his career.
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