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PARIS — Still reeling from knee surgeries, former champion Stan Wawrinka lost a five-set battle to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the first round of the French Open on Monday.
Last year’s finalist lasted three-and-a-half hours before bowing out with a 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 loss to the 67th-ranked Spaniard.
Returning to the place where he claimed the second of his three Grand Slam titles did not help Wawrinka shake off his poor form. The Swiss player, No. 30 in the world, looked a shadow of the player who won the title in Paris three years ago, struggling with his serve and hitting 72 unforced errors.
Wawrinka did not go down easily, though, and put on a big fight during a match that produced some spectacular baseline rallies. But he was ultimately made to pay for his inconsistent display.
“There is no frustration, it’s just tough,” Wawrinka said. “But I’m on the right way. It was very close today.”
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Garcia-Lopez had already upset Wawrinka in the first round at Roland Garros when they met in Paris four years ago. He will next play Karen Khachanov of Russia.
The pair was joined in the second round by former champion Novak Djokovic, who advanced with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over qualifier Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil.
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In women’s play, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova made it to the second round after defeating Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, while former top-ranked player Victoria Azarenka lost 7-5, 7-5 to Katerina Siniakova.
The No. 8-seeded Kvitova needed 2 hours, 7 minutes to overcome her 87th-ranked opponent on the Philippe-Chatrier showcourt. Kvitova’s best run in Paris was to the semifinals in 2012. She lost in the second round last year while making her Grand Slam return after an assailant attacked her with a knife at her home in December 2016, requiring extensive surgery to her left hand, her playing hand.
Azarenka, a semifinalist in Paris five years ago, is ranked 84th after giving birth to a son in December 2016. After a poor clay-court campaign punctuated by early exits in Madrid and Rome, the two-time Grand Slam champion was unable to turn things around against the 54th-ranked Siniakova. She hit 38 unforced errors on the remote Court 18.
Rafael Nadal will later start his bid for an 11th title at Roland Garros against Simone Bolelli of Italy. The “King of Clay” is 79-2 in Paris and is the title favourite again. He lost only one match on his favourite surface this season, claiming titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.