LONDON (AFP) – Switzerland s Stan Wawrinka opened his ATP Tour Finals campaign in scintillating style with a 6-1, 6-1 demolition of Tomas Berdych on Monday.
Wawrinka, the reigning Australian Open champion, had been in poor form heading into the prestigious event at London s O2 Arena, but the world number four was back in the groove against the Czech as he took only 58 minutes to wrap up his Group A opener.
The 29-year-old hit 16 winners to only four from Berdych, while the Czech s 20 unforced errors were also a large part of his undoing.
Wawrinka made it to the semi-finals on his Tour Finals debut last year and, on this evidence, will fancy his chances of progressing from a group that also includes world number one Novak Djokovic and US Open champion Marin Cilic, who meet later on Monday.
“For me, when I play against him it s usually tough,” Wawrinka said. “But I can always find a solution. I m really happy with the way I handled the situation today.”
It was another dispiriting Tour Finals start for Berdych, who had lost all four of his previous opening matches at the eight-man tournament.
“Unfortunately it was my worst match of the whole season, and I kept it for the start here in the World Tour Finals,” Berdych said.
“I m in the worst possible situation that I can ever be.
“I m going to face Marin and Novak and the only chance to qualify is to beat them. It s almost a mission impossible, but let s try.”
After winning his maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, Wawrinka has suffered a gradual slump that reached its lowest point over the last month as he lost four of his last five matches, including first round exits in Tokyo, Shanghai and Basel.
Despite that woeful run, Wawrinka had won his last four matches against Berdych, including in the group stage of the Tour Finals last year, and he was quick to reestablish his supremacy against the Czech.
Wawrinka broke in the second game and refused to release his grip as he landed another break to race into a 5-0 lead before most fans had even got settled in their seats.
Berdych got on the scoreboard at last but it was too late to stop the Swiss wrapping up the first set in 25 minutes.
There was no let-up from Wawrinka in the second as he out-played the Czech with his mix of power and poise from the baseline.
He broke for a 2-1 lead and, with Berdych completely out of sorts, it was no surprise to see Wawrinka break twice more as he sprinted to victory.