French Open 2018: Former champion Stan Wawrinka ousted; Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem cruise into 2nd round
Former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka continued to struggle with form and fitness as he was dumped out in the first round by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, but Novak Djokovic cruised through in straight sets.
Paris: Former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka continued to struggle with form and fitness as he was dumped out in the first round by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Monday, a defeat which will send his world ranking plummeting, but Novak Djokovic cruised through in straight sets.
Wawrinka, who lost to Rafael Nadal in last year's final and won the 2015 title, was beaten in a five-set thriller 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 by the Spanish world number 67 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
The 33-year-old has been plagued by a knee injury and arrived at Roland Garros having won just one match on clay in Geneva last week, his first event in three months.
The defeat means that the three-time Grand Slam champion will slip from 30th in the world to outside the top 250 after the tournament, having failed to defend the ranking points he gained in 2017.
"There is no frustration (at rankings slip). It's just tough," said Wawrinka.
"But again, I knew from the beginning that it will take a long, a lot of time to get back. I knew that from the surgery that it will take a year at least to get where I want to be."
There were worrying signs for his fans when he pulled up and called for a medical timeout after just six games, but he played down fears he had caused further damage to his already troublesome left knee.
"My knee is good. I blocked something else at the beginning of the first set, and that's why I had to ask," he said.
The 23rd seed found his rhythm from nowhere after a poor first set, crunching two massive forehands to break for a 3-1 lead in the second.
A fired-up Wawrinka duly levelled the match, and saved a break point to serve out the third set after breaking in the opening game, as 34-year-old Garcia-Lopez threw his racket to the ground in disgust.
The match looked to be all but over when Wawrinka broke in game five of the fourth set, but he became ragged and Garcia-Lopez forced a decider by edging a tie-break.
Wawrinka's form totally deserted him in the fifth set, and Garcia-Lopez comfortably wrapped up victory.
Djokovic eases through
Djokovic's form is not as good as it used to be, but his mastering of the French language gets better every year.
The former top-ranked player did his post-match interview in French on Court Philippe Chatrier after opening his Roland Garros campaign with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over qualifier Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil.
"Every day it's very special to play here, it feels a bit like home," said Djokovic, who has not won a Grand Slam event since the 2016 French Open. "It was important to win in straight sets."
Djokovic, who underwent right elbow surgery earlier this year, is the No 20 seed in Paris, his lowest Grand Slam seeding since the 2006 US Open.
Dominic Thiem's bid to reach a third consecutive Roland Garros semi-final began with an easy 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 victory against 24-year-old Ilya Ivashka of Belarus.
Thiem converted eight of his 14 break points against Ivashka, who had come through qualifying.
Thiem will next meet 19-year-old Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who clinched his maiden Grand Slam win, beating Carlos Taberner of Spain 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3.
With inputs from agencies
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