Murray & Wawrinka To Meet In First-Round Roland Garros Blockbuster
The stars have met 20 times in their ATP Head2Head series, with Murray claiming 12 of those matches. They clashed in both the 2016 and 2017 Paris semi-finals, with the latter of those battles proving a pivotal moment for both players.
“Been a long journey to get back on Court Philipe Chatrier. Three-and-a-half years since I played @stanwawrinka85 in a brutal five-set semi-final, which turned out to be the end of my hip,” Murray wrote on Instagram Tuesday. “It was a pleasure to be back @rolandgarros and a huge thank you to the @fftennis for giving me the opportunity to play here again 🙏.”
Been a long journey to get back on Court Philipe Chatrier. 3 and half years since I played @stanwawrinka85 in a brutal 5 set semi final which turned out to be the end of my hip. It was a pleasure to be back @rolandgarros and a huge thank you to the @fftennis for giving me the opportunity to play here again 🙏 The new stadium with the roof looks amazing and all the changes and improvements they have made for the players is much appreciated👍 @castore_sportswear @headtennis_official #tennis #paris
Wawrinka won that 2017 semi-final after a thrilling four hours and 34 minutes, but it took a toll on both of them. The Swiss underwent two left knee surgeries in August 2017, and Murray would have right hip surgery in January 2018 and January 2019.
Their most recent match came in last year's Antwerp final, in which Murray rallied to win his first ATP Tour singles title since 2017 Dubai.
"It means a lot. The past few years have been extremely difficult. Both me and Stan have had a lot of injury problems in the past couple of years," Murray said at the time. "Amazing to be back playing against him in a final like that."
Another tantalising first-round match pits recent US Open champion Dominic Thiem against former World No. 3 Marin Cilic. The third seed has won each of their three meetings, but the Croatian showed in Flushing Meadows just weeks ago that he is still capable of pushing the Austrian when he is firing. Thiem battled past Cilic in that match 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. That third set was the only set he lost en route to the final.
David Goffin, the 11th seed, will have his hands full against reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner. The 19-year-old Italian won their only previous match 7-6(7), 7-5 earlier this year in Rotterdam. Their encounter promises to provide thrilling baseline rallies, with both players looking to take charge of the baseline on the terre batture.
One of the most entertaining first-round clashes might be between eighth seed Gael Monfils and Kazakhstani Alexander Bublik. They are two of the biggest showmen on the ATP Tour. Monfils is arguably the quickest player on Tour and he has the ability to unleash incredible power when necessary. Bublik enjoys using his underarm serve and drop shot, which should create exciting rallies.
Home favourite Richard Gasquet will try to spring a surprise against rock-solid 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut. The favoured Spaniard has won six of their eight meetings, but this will be their first clay-court clash. Will the French magician be able to find the level that took him as high as World No. 7 to upset Bautista Agut?