But the 26-year-old Cecchinato, who had to break serve at 0-6, 4-5, to stay in the match, pulled off a remarkable comeback to stun 2014 champion Wawrinka 0-6, 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 44 minutes. Cecchinato was clinical in important moments, converting all three break points he earned to reach the third round in the Principality for the first time.
“I started the match so bad because I was very, very tense. I was 0-6, 0-2 down and I thought it was [maybe going to be] 6-0, 6-0. I started the match so tense, and then I started to play way better because I started to play with my serve, with my forehand,” Cecchinato said. “I started to play better because every point I was focused on my game. Then I won an unbelievable match because it was also 0-6, 4-5 and serve for Stan so I am very happy because I won a very tough match.”
The 11th seed, who is currently competing at a career-high 16th in the ATP Rankings, continues to add to his growing reputation on clay courts. The Italian has lifted three ATP Tour titles on clay in the past 12 months and also upset Novak Djokovic en route to the Roland Garros semi-finals last year. He saved all four break points he faced in the decider against Wawrinka.
“I fought every point because when it was 0-6, 0-2, I thought it was such a bad match because every match it’s tough to play against Stan, [he has an] unbelievable backhand,” Cecchinato said. “Now I could play one more match. I need some confidence and it’s very important for me because it’s an unbelievable tournament here.”
Cecchinato will meet Guido Pella for a spot in the last eight. The Palermo native owns a 2-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Pella, which includes a 6-2, 7-6(4) victory in last year’s Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag final.
Did You Know?
Cecchinato won just five service points in the first set, managing to capture only nine per cent (1/11) of his second-serve points against Wawrinka. In the second and third sets, the Italian won 65 per cent (13/20) of his second-serve points.