Stanislas Wawrinka received a much-needed confidence boost with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Tomas Berdych on Monday in his opening round-robin match at the ATP World Tour Finals.
Serving and returning impeccably, the Australian Open champion outclassed his Czech opponent with a range of backhand and volley winners. He was also well aided by Berdych's abject display, as the sixth-seeded heavy hitter lost his opening match at the season-ending tournament for the fifth time in as many attempts.
"Unfortunately, it was my worst match of the whole season, and I kept it for the start here in the World Tour Finals," Berdych said. "I did not feel anything good today."
Wawrinka traveled to London with his form in question after winning only two matches since his quarterfinal exit at the U.S. Open, and struggling to play as freely as he did earlier this season.
"My recent losses really hurt me," said Wawrinka, who also won his first Masters title at Monte Carlo this year. "But I kept working hard at training and I never panicked. I knew my game was there. It was more the mental side that I needed to improve."
Wawrinka immediately put Berdych on the back foot, winning five consecutive games to take the first set after dropping only three points on his service games.
Berdych, who had 20 unforced errors, fought harder at the start of the second set but dropped his serve after a tight third game and never recovered.
"When I feel good on the court, I'm ready to beat anybody" said Wawrinka, who had never lost just two games against a Top-10 opponent in 34 wins. "But I did not expect to win so easily."
Wawrinka and Berdych are in a tough Group A also featuring two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic and U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, who played later Monday. After the round-robin stage, the top two finishers in each group will advance and Berdych has few illusions about his chances of progressing.
"I'm in the worst possible situation that I can ever be," he said. "I'm going to face Marin or Novak first, in the end playing both of them, and the only chance to qualify is to beat them, it's almost mission impossible."
Wawrinka's strong display will also reassure the Swiss team ahead of the Davis Cup final against France from Nov. 21-23 in Lille, where he will be teaming up with Roger Federer.