Stan Wawrinka vs Mikhail Kukushkin - Murray River Open ATP
Tuesday February 2nd, 2021 / 9:20pm EST
TV: ESPN (US), Amazon Prime (UK) Stream live sports and exclusive originals on ESPN+. Sign up now!
Top seeded Stan Warwinka of Switzerland faces unseeded Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin in the Second Round of the 2021 Murray River Open, a warm-up event for the Australian Open. The tournament is being held in Melbourne, Australia and the match will be held on Tuesday February 2nd, 2021. This will be the fifth meeting between the two ATP Tour veterans and the head to head is deadlocked 2-2. Who will come away with the victory and advance to the Round of 16?
Stan Wawrinka has had a great career, but sadly is on the downward trajectory now. With that being said, he is still an extremely dangerous opponent, capable of beating anyone on on his day. His biggest struggles recently have been with fitness and consistency, often registering big wins and then fizzling out during the latter stages of tournaments. He should be very well rested and rearing to go here. He is notorious for his careful preparation during the off-season so he should be ready. Some rust is expected since he hasn't played a match since the Paris Masters 2020 but he has had success in Australia in the past and should be considered the favorite.
Mikhail Kukushin is a veteran of the ATP Tour and is currently ranked #90. He has been ranked as high as #39 and will be hoping to improve his ranking in 2021. He was impressive in his opening round win here in Melbourne, coming from a set down to defeat Argentina Juan Londero. He tends to struggle with his serve but is a strong returner, and solid from the baseline. He has the consistency to trouble a power hitter like Wawrinka, especially one that may be erratic after a long layoff. He enters this match as the clear underdog but will be confident here, knowing that he has defeated the three-time Grand Slam winner twice before.
This is a potentially tricky match for the number one seeded Wawrinka, but one that I expect him to win. Rust is to be expected but once he finds his groove he should have too much power for his opponent to handle. Stan Wawrinka to win in two tight sets, potentially three.