Stan Wawrinka twice found his opponent serving for the match in the fourth round at Indian Wells.
Yet still he found a way to win.
Wawrinka, the third seed, had all manner of difficulties seeing off the challenge that night of Japanese lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka.
But the 3-6 6-3 7-6(4) win sent him through to the quarterfinals, and he hasn’t looked back.
He’s now in the final of the BNP Paribas Open, where he’ll face fellow Swiss Roger Federer on Sunday.
His level of play in his straight-sets demolition of Pablo Carreno Busta in Saturday’s semifinals was almost unrecognisable when compared with his performance against Nishioka.
“For me most of the time I try to learn from what I maybe did wrong in that match, why I was that close to lose, why I wasn’t playing great, why I wasn’t doing the right thing,” he explained.
“That’s how I see it. For sure, sometimes when you save match point or serve twice for the match, you get a little bit lucky, but you push to have luck on your side, also. You don’t just get the luck like that (snapping fingers).
“Next match for me I don’t enter (thinking), Oh, I have nothing to lose because I save match point the last match. I’m just trying to learn from that, to play a better match.
“That’s what I did in US Open. That’s what I also did here.”
Indeed, en route to the title at Flushing Meadows last year, Wawrinka survived a match point against Dan Evans in the third round before going all the way.
And when he won his maiden Grand Slam title at Australian Open 2014, he’d scraped through a quarterfinal against Novak Djokovic that ended at 9-7 in the fifth set.
The hurdles he navigates at tournaments and the deeper he progresses combine to embue the world No.3 with confidence – it may explain his brilliant record in finals.
Wawrinka has 11 of the last 12 times he has appeared in title matches.
“Most of the time I know when I start to win the matches in the tournament, I start to get the confidence, the good feeling with the ball, with the way I’m playing in the tournament. I know I play better and better,” he said.
“Normally semifinal and final, I always play some good match. Doesn’t mean I always win, but I know that I’m going to play some good tennis.”
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