Wawrinka, Del Potro give taste of things to come

Mon Nov 4, 2013 7:05pm EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - The parade of serial grand slam champions is reserved for Tuesday at the ATP World Tour Finals but the supporting cast provided compelling opening acts with Stanislas Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro in the spotlight.

Swiss Wawrinka, the only debutant among the eight players contesting the season's year-ender at London's impressive 02 Arena, proved he belongs with the elite after a 6-3 6-7(0) 6-3 win over Czech powerhouse Tomas Berdych in Group A.

Then, in Monday's evening session, former U.S. Open champion Del Potro came from a set down to eventually subdue French stylist Richard Gasquet 6-7(4) 6-3 7-5 to open Group B.

World number one Rafa Nadal, holder Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who have won 36 grand slams between them, all play on the second day when Djokovic's clash with Federer receives top billing after the top seed faces fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

Wawrinka has long lived in the shadow of compatriot Federer but the 28-year-old has closed to within touching distance of his idol in the world rankings and could surpass him this week.

Not that he will brag about it even if that does happen.

Wawrinka produced some spellbinding strokes as he outclassed the one-dimensional Berdych for much of their two hour 25 minute contest but after clinching victory he was modesty itself when asked about the noisy Swiss support in the 17,000 crowd.

"They wanted Roger, but they had me," Wawrinka, who reached the U.S. Open semi-final this year, told reporters regarding the fans clad in red, many sporting Federer masks.   Continued...

Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland celebrates breaking serve in the first set during his men's singles tennis match against Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic at the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London November 4, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett