Wednesday 21 March 2018

Wawrinka falls at first hurdle in Paris washout

Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Robby Ginepri during their men's singles match at the French Open at Roland Garros
Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Robby Ginepri during their men's singles match at the French Open at Roland Garros

Robert Woodward in Paris

Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka was found seriously wanting on the wet clay at Roland Garos when he was beaten 6-4 5-7 6-2 6-0 by Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the first round of the French Open.

The Swiss third seed threw away a 3-1 lead in the first set and, even though he pulled level in the second, he always looked second best against a man ranked 41st in the world who has never gone past the third round here.

The surface on the Philippe Chatrier show court had been criticised earlier by second seed Novak Djokovic for being saturated after several days of rain, and Wawrinka got bogged down in the heavy conditions against an inspired opponent.

While Djokovic played the funny man as he slithered to a 6-1 6-2 6-4 win over Portugal's Joao Sousa, defending champion Nadal slipped into his customary role of cold-blooded assassin on clay.


Nadal, bidding for his ninth title at Roland Garros, hunted down wildcard Robby Ginepri during a first set that ended 6-0 in the Spaniard's favour.

The American greeted his capture of the first game of the second set with a clenched fist of mock celebration but defeat, while somewhat delayed, was inevitable as he folded 6-0 6-3 6-0.

The start of play was delayed for about one hour, and Maria Sharapova managed to finish off fellow Russian Ksenia Pervak for the loss of only three games on the Philippe Chatrier show court before rain returned to stop play for another hour.

Djokovic was leading 4-1 at the time and, on the resumption, broke Sousa to love. He then recovered from 0-40 on his own serve to wrap up the first set with two crushing first serves.

Rain began to fall again, with the Serb, who is strongly fancied to end Nadal's hold on the title, preparing to serve for the set at 5-2.

Djokovic sat, looking slightly ridiculous, in a white hooded waterproof jacket as the umpire decided whether to take the players off court.

The Serb made a series of faces at the camera before inviting a ball boy to share his seat, and a soft drink. They chatted under a large umbrella to the amusement of the crowd.

When play resumed after five minutes, they shook hands politely before resuming their previous roles.

"It was a nice, fun time, something unusual for the grand slams," said Djokovic.


"We waited for around 10 minutes in the pouring rain on the court, so I felt there's something I should do and make a new friend. He accepted the offer to sit down, which I didn't think he would do. He's very spontaneous little boy, and I hope I see him my next match."

In the opening match on the show court, Sharapova, winner of the Stuttgart and Madrid clay-court titles, went on the attack early, moving her left-handed compatriot around the court to break at the first opportunity.

But a wild volley at the net, with the whole court open, allowed Pervak to break back before the four-times grand slam champion emerged with a 4-1 lead and took the set in 27 minutes.

Sharapova broke early in the second set and won 6-1 6-2 to show she had recovered from her thrashing by Ana Ivanovic in the third round in Rome. (© Independent News Service)



Irish Independent

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