When the Roland Garros draw was made, the match-up that drew the most attention was Stan Wawrinka against Andy Murray in a battle of three-time Grand Slam champions. It was a blockbuster clash, but Wawrinka didn’t allow the drama to build further on Sunday once they stepped on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
The Swiss star cruised past Murray 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 to reach the second round in Paris. The 2015 champion played a solid match in the cool conditions, going unbroken in his one-hour, 37-minute victory.
“I was expecting a tough match. I was really focussed
with a champion like Andy. Even if the scoreboard is only
one side like today, you have to keep focus,” Wawrinka said. “You never
know what can happen. Today I’m really happy with what I have done on
the court. Great to be back, great to feel that way, and
looking forward for the next match.”
The last time the superstars competed against one another at Roland Garros was in their five-set 2017 semi-final. Later that year, Wawrinka underwent two left knee surgeries. In the time since, Murray has had two right hip operations. Now both players are on their way back to peak form, but Wawrinka was simply better in their encounter.
The 16th seed had fewer problems hitting through the heavy conditions, striking 42 winners to just 27 unforced errors. He was comfortable playing attacking tennis, even at times from behind the baseline. Murray struggled to make much of an impression on the 35-year-old in rallies, and on many occasions his shots sat up for the Swiss to swing away at.
“Obviously an extremely tough draw.
Even if I played very well, it would have been
no guarantee that I win that match,” Murray said. “But I also didn’t play well. I served under
40 per cent first serves in the court, that’s just not good
enough, really, against anyone, and especially someone
as good as Stan.
“You want to be serving in the 60 per cent [range],
that sort of region. You won’t see many
players serve under 40 per cent the rest of the tournament.
That’s just not good enough.”
Murray tried to make inroads early in the second set, attempting to step in and play aggressively with his forehand. But he was unable to do so consistently enough to put pressure on the former World No. 3 and force Wawrinka out of his comfort zone.
At 2-5 in the second set, Murray tried hitting a backhand drop shot to change the pace of a rally, but his attempt bounced before the net. Before it landed, Murray said, “Oy, oy, oy!” It was that type of day for the former World No. 1. This was Murray’s first clay-court match since his loss against Wawrinka in the 2017 Roland Garros semi-finals.
Wawrinka now trails the Brit 9-12 in their ATP Head2Head series, but leads 5-1 on clay. He will try to carry his good level into the second round against in-form Dominik Koepfer.
“Tough player. Been playing
well. I saw him playing in Rome a few matches. I saw him
play last week, also, so I expect he’s in full confidence,” Wawrinka said. “He won a lot of matches against some top guys, so it’s going to be an interesting match. Never played or
practised with him, so it’s going to be a completely different
match. Hopefully I can keep playing well.”
The German, who was the only player to take a set from World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, battled past home favourite Antoine Hoang 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 in two hours and four minutes.