Stan Wawrinka made to work as he scrapes by in French Open
Garbine Muguruza and Svetlana Kuznetsova among seeds to qualify in women’s events
Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland: “He kept me under pressure permanently. I kept running after the score. You can’t really relax.” Photograph: Etienne Laurent/EPA
Spain’s Garbine Muguruza returns the ball to Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova during their women’s first round match in the French Open. Photograph: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka dazzled the moment he walked on to a gloomy Philippe Chatrier Court wearing a fluorescent yellow shirt but his play only occasionally matched his attire as he flirted with a humbling first-round exit yesterday.
The 31-year-old third seed was left in the shade by straight-hitting Czech Lukas Rosol for much of their first-round clash but finally came to life to win 4-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-4.
It was touch and go for a while, though, as Rosol, who famously beat Rafael Nadal in the second round of Wimbledon in 2012, threatened another huge upset on a damp and dreary day that began two hours late because of heavy rain.
“A really tough match, the conditions were slow and heavy,” said Wawrinka, relieved to avoid becoming the only defending French Open men’s champion in the professional era to lose in the first round.
“He kept me under pressure permanently. I kept running after the score. You can’t really relax,” Wawrinka said.
It was that kind of day, one for grit over style, and Spain’s fourth seed Garbine Muguruza, a Wimbledon finalist last year, showed plenty as she also avoided an early exit.
Wearing a long-sleeved top like most of the women players, the flat-hitting Spaniard took a while to find her game but eventually ground past Anna Karoline Schmiedlova 3-6 6-3 6-3.
“It was so cold. Even though I was running and playing, I felt cold. I thought it was going to rain. I was looking to the sky,” Muguruza said.
Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, champion 10 years ago, also toiled away to beat Yaroslava Shvedova as the seeds, apart from a few exceptions such as seventh seed Roberta Vinci, flourished.
Some advanced to the second round with a flourish, such as second seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and sixth seed Simona Halep of Romania.
Halep, beaten by the currently suspended Maria Sharapova in the 2014 final, beat Japan’s Nao Hibino 6-2 6-0 while Radwanska, looking to go beyond the quarter-final for the first time, despatched Serbian Bojana Jovanovski 6-0 6-2.
Vinci was crushed 6-1 6-3 by Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko.