Wawrinka's laboured win sets up showdown with Andy
Team Murray will have been watching this match closely and, although they may have preferred the British No 1's fourth-round opponent to be American qualifier Jesse Levine, they must be delighted that Stanislas Wawrinka – on the evidence of this match at least – doesn't appear to pose a great threat.
Although the Swiss, 24, won 5-7 7-5 6-3 6-3, he did not convince and will have to raise his game, and then some, in his match against Andy Murray tomorrow. "I am looking forward to it," Wawrinka said about their meeting, which he hoped would be on Centre Court. "It will be a big occasion, maybe the biggest match I have played."
Removing the last qualifier in the main draw should have been a straightforward task for the world No 18 and Olympic gold medallist, who beat Levine, 21, in their only previous meeting, at Indian Wells last year. But he was made to work for his victory in a match lasting just over three hours.
The American left-hander took a few games to get going and was 5-2 down at one point but he came back strongly and took the first set 7-5. Levine, who spent two years at the Nick Bollettieri academy, has a terrific serve, runs everything down, is quick around the court and likes to come to the net early. His tricky game meant Wawrinka could not get into a rhythm and was unable to convert most of the break points he had during the match.
Wawrinka struggled to get past a youngster in a hurry. By contrast Levine was all energy and zippiness and, dressed in baggy shorts, loose shirt and peaked cap, looked like the college boy he recently was at the University of Florida.
In the second set, Wawrinka had to come back from a 4-2 deficit but with strong serving, beautiful groundstrokes and some quite magnificent returns of serve he took the set 7-5. However, Levine still was not offering up the match, and he kept calm even when he was on the wrong end of some shocking line calls.
In the third set, Wawrinka finally found his groove. His groundstrokes became more punishing and accurate, he finally began to serve consistently – with 17 aces overall – and he kept Levine in the back court, where he caused him fewer problems.
In the sixth game, Wawrinka attacked Levine's serve and broke for a 4-2 lead. He then won the next game, varying his serve and keeping Levine out wide or deep. His lovely one-handed backhand brought him a few winners down the line, and although Levine then held his serve, Wawrinka prevailed 6-3.
In the fourth set, games went with serve until Wawrinka broke to go 4-3 ahead and Wawrinka needed only one match point to seal the match on Levine's serve. But the Swiss looked fortunate to have made it into the second week.
Murray beat Wawrinka, one of his hitting partners on tour, in straight sets in their last meeting, in the last 16 at last year's US Open, but the Swiss says his game has improved since then. "My serve is better and I am better at coming to the net," he said. "I will have to do both well against Andy."
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