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Wawrinka vs Johnson ATP Acapulco live streaming, preview and tips - Wawrinka building up form as he targets Acapulco quarter-finals

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 27 Feb 2019
  • Stan Wawrinka vs Steve Johnson is live from Acapulco on Wednesday at 6.00pm local time (12.00am GMT, Thursday)
  • Wawrinka leads their head-to-head 2-1, but Johnson won their last clash in Rome in 2018
Stan Wawrinka (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

Stan Wawrinka continues his Abierto Mexicano Telcel campaign in Acapulco on Wednesday against American seventh seed Steve Johnson.

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Three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka attempts to build on his encouraging recent form when he squares off against Steve Johnson for a place in the ATP 500 Abierto Mexicano Telcel quarter-finals in Acapulco on Wednesday.

Arriving in Acapulco on the back of a run to his first final since the 2017 French Open in Rotterdam a fortnight ago, Wawrinka kept his foot on the pedal as he defeated qualifier Ryan Harrison in straight sets on Monday night. The Swiss broke Harrison at the start of both sets, and although he relinquished one of those breaks in the second set, Wawrinka steadied the ship when it came to the crunch, claiming the victory with his 26th winner to emerge triumphant by a 6-4 7-6(6) scoreline. Playing in Acapulco for the first time since 2013 (and for the first time since the tournament switched to hardcourt from clay), just how far can Wawrinka go in the Mexican city?

After undergoing double knee surgery after Wimbledon in 2017 and taking the rest of the year off as a result, Wawrinka’s comeback in 2018 was a stop-start and stuttering affair. He initially returned at the Australian Open and went on to make the semi-finals of Sofia, but his knee was still giving him pain, so he decided to withdraw from Indian Wells and Miami among other tournaments to get ready for the clay season. Wawrinka still struggled to get going on the dirt, but some big wins in the first rounds of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open over Grigor Dimitrov, along with a semi-final run in St. Petersburg and a quarter-final in Cincinnati helped lay the foundation for what is looking like a much better 2019 season.

Wawrinka has already improved his ranking by 24 spots over the first two months of the season, registering a 8-4 record, including making the quarter-finals of Doha and the final of Rotterdam, where he avenged an Australian Open second round loss to Milos Raonic and beat World No. 7 Kei Nishikori before going down in three sets to an in-form Gael Monfils. All signs are pointing to Wawrinka reclaiming his place near the top of men’s tennis at some stage in 2019 - can he fast-track that progress in Acapulco this week?

Steve Johnson (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)
Steve Johnson is the man trying to stop the powerful Swiss on Wednesday. The American has not been playing well to start the 2019 season and is still yet to beat a player ranked inside the top 100 in the world, losing in the opening rounds of Auckland (Leonardo Mayer), the Australian Open (Andreas Seppi) and New York (Brayden Schnur). Johnson scored his first two wins of the season in Delray Beach as he made the quarter-finals last week, beating No. 131 Jason Jung and No. 105 Paolo Lorenzi before falling to eventual champion Radu Albot, while he advanced into the second round of Acapulco on Monday courtesy of a battling 7-5 7-5 victory over 552nd-ranked wildcard Gerardo Lopez Villasenor.

Since making the full-time transition from college tennis to the ATP World Tour, Johnson has been a steady and consistent performer, with his career-best year coming in 2016 when he won his first ATP title on the grass of Nottingham, reached the semi-finals of the ATP 500 event in Washington D.C. and the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Masters, Queen’s Club, Newport and the Rio Olympics, where he came closer than anyone to beating eventual gold medalist Andy Murray. Johnson also made the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam for the first time at Wimbledon, defeating Grigor Dimitrov before losing to Roger Federer as he hit a career-high ranking of No. 21.

Johnson has gone on to win three more ATP titles over the last two seasons, winning Houston twice in back-to-back years, while he also took home the Newport silverware last season - although it must be said, those are two of the weakest ATP 250 tournaments on the calendar. All up, Johnson hasn’t really kicked on from his 2016 season, but he does remain a dangerous player and someone who should never be underestimated.

As is the case with a lot of American players, Johnson builds his game around a big serve and an enormous forehand. However, where I think he will come unstuck in this match-up with Wawrinka is the backhand to backhand duels. Johnson’s backhand is a known weakness on tour, while Wawrinka’s is an obvious strength, especially when he’s confident. Johnson does own a win over Wawrinka, but that came when the Swiss was struggling to regain his fitness in Rome last year. Wawrinka won their previous two encounters in straight sets and I expect a similar scoreline in Acapulco on Wednesday.

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Wawrinka vs Johnson ATP Acapulco live streaming, preview and tips - Wawrinka building up form as he targets Acapulco quarter-finals

Stan Wawrinka continues his Abierto Mexicano Telcel campaign in Acapulco on Wednesday against American seventh seed Steve Johnson.

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