Youzhny’s retirement against Sela deprives the tournament of its second seed

Much was expected on New Year’s Day at the Aircel Chennai Open. The thought of watching the top two seeds — Stanislas Wawrinka and Mikhail Youzhny — in back-to-back matches on Centre Court must have been enticing enough for the holiday crowd to pull in.

What one was welcomed by, however, was a crowd anything but holiday like. Then Youzhny, after just four games into his match against Dudi Sela, retired citing stomach trouble. That brought Wawrinka and Benjamin Becker onto the court, and just five games were played when the skies opened for the first time.

After a 45 minute break, Wawrinka returned to deliver a first-rate demolition job to pack off the German, beating him 6-3, 6-1 in just 53 minutes.

Becker has always possessed an impressive range of strokes. The German’s chances of success against Wawrinka lay in how he could pick the individual shots from his repertoire and string them together to construct points.

However, the first set saw none of his shot-making abilities. Often the rallies didn’t last long enough for Becker to even think of unleashing one of his powerful weapons.

Wawrinka broke Becker in the fifth game to lead 3-2. Becker did manage to somehow earn a couple of break points in the eighth game. But Wawrinka served his way out of the situation, and went on to break serve again in the following game to wrap up the set.

Becker started going for the lines in the second set. A couple of inside-out forehand winners suggested a willingness to seize initiative. But, Wawrinka just had too much firepower; Becker often found himself beaten to the ball by a couple of yards.

The World No.8 broke in the second and the sixth games to clinch the set 6-1, and advance to the quarterfinals.

“It’s a good start. I am really happy with my performance today. The court is quite slow and the weather humid. I was focused and was trying to have a good match. I feel good now,” Wawrinka said.

Earlier, Youzhny retired with his Israeli opponent serving 3-1 in the first set.

“It’s a stomach problem. I wanted to play, I tried my best, but it’s not possible. When you have restricted movement, it’s no use playing on Centre Court and losing. It (the problem) started last week in Thailand — some virus, and it has continued here too. I am sorry,” he said in a released statement.

There were to be two more injury pull-outs when Yen-Hsun Lu and Alexander Kudryavtsev, both conceded their respective doubles matches.

Later in the day, R. Ramkumar and Sriram Balaji overcame Americans Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram 7-5, 6-3.

The results:

Second round: Dudi Sela (Isr) bt 2-Mikhail Youzhny (Rus) 3-1 (retd.); 1-Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui) bt Benjamin Becker (Ger) 6-3, 6-1; 7-Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Fra) bt Jiri Vesely (Cze) 6-4, 6-4; Aljaz Bedene (Slo) bt Alexander Kudryavtsev (Rus) 1-6, 3-0 retd.

Doubles: First round: N. Sriram Balaji & R. Ramkumar (Ind) bt Scott Lipsky & Rajeev Ram (USA) 7-5, 6-3; 4-Johan Brunstorm (Swe) & Frederik Nielsen (Den) bt Tomasz Bednarek (Pol) & Mikhail Elgin (Rus) 6-3, 6-3; 3-Andre Begemann & Martin Emmrich (Ger) bt Jonathan Erlich & Andy Ram (Isr) 6-4, 6-3; Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Esp) & Philipp Oswald (Aut) bt Yen-Hsun Lu (Tpe) & Divij Sharan (Ind) 1-2 (retd.); Purav Raja (Ind) & Dudi Sela (Isr) bt Nicholas Monroe (USA) & Frank Moser (Ger) 7-6, 6-1.

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