Wawrinka struggles into Portugal quarters
Stanislas Wawrinka struggled to set up a Portugal Open quarterfinal against the host nation's man of the moment, with the Swiss second seed forced to fight through for a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Albert Ramos in Oeiras on Thursday.
The victory, which was sealed on a fifth match point, will cast 16th-ranked Wawrinka as the villain when he takes on Portuguese wild card Gastao Elias, who won only the second ATP-level match of his career when he beat Denis Istomin 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Wawrinka, a semifinalist on his Portugal debut in 2012, admitted that he might have arrived too early at the event where he had a bye into the second round and the latest possible start.
The Swiss even tweeted this week that he bought a PlayStation to help pass some of his free time after coming in last Friday night from Geneva.
"Maybe I arrived a bit early, but the first match of the tournament is always tough, especially if the guy already has played a match," he said of Ramos, whom he has now beaten four times including a February meeting in Argentina.
The Swiss made a fast recovery after number 57 Ramos ran off with the first set.
But closing down the contest was tough, with Wawrinka failing on four match points in the penultimate game on his opponent's serve.
He finally got the win a game later after coming from 0-40 down.
"It's true I had my chances and maybe I was thinking about those that I missed," said the 28-year-old, who is now coached by Swede Magnus Norman.
The win for Elias came as the number 113 played in a main draw for only the second time this season.
Third seed Andreas Seppi of Italy defeated Alejandro Falla 6-4, 6-0 while No 8 Tommy Robredo put out Robin Haase 6-4, 6-4 with the two winners to meet in another quarterfinal.