ROME – Swiss world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka overcame a second-set hiccup to defeat Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 on Wednesday and book a spot in the round of 16 of the Italian Open, a key tune-up event for Roland Garros.
Wawrinka converted one of the three break points he created and staved off Paire’s lone break opportunity to take the first set, but the Swiss three-time Grand Slam champion’s game went south in the second.
After winning 16 of his 18 first-serve points in the opener, Wawrinka won a shocking three of 11 points after putting his first serve in play in the second set, resulting in two breaks of serve.
The 32-year-old Wawrinka, however, righted the ship at the start of the third set to jump out to a 3-0 lead and secure the win in one hour and 42 minutes.
The third-seeded Swiss, whose victory was revenge for his loss to Paire last week at another elite clay-court event, the Madrid Open, will next take on big-serving American John Isner.
Most of the other favored men’s players also notched victories on Wednesday, with No. 4 seed and seven-time champion Rafael Nadal, fifth-seeded Milos Raonic, seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori and eighth-seeded Dominic Thiem all advancing to Thursday’s round of 16.
The Italian Open, also known as the Rome Masters, is the last of the big tune-up events for tennis’ clay-court Grand Slam tournament, the French Open, which gets under way on May 28.