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Stan Wawrinka hits 76 winners in a five-set victory against Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Monday in Paris.

Wawrinka Battles To Five-Set Win In Roland Garros Opener

Cachin downs Thiem in thriller, Coric advances

Stan Wawrinka’s champion’s spirit came to the fore on Monday at Roland Garros.

The 2015 champion narrowly avoided a second consecutive first-round exit at the clay-court major when he battled past Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-7(2), 1-6, 6-4. The Swiss needed four hours and 35 minutes to take an 8-0 ATP Head2Head series lead against the lefty.

“It was probably the toughest one I played against him, that's for sure,” said Wawrinka in his post-match press conference. “It was a tough battle today. A long one.

“I had some opportunities in the third set to maybe find a way to finish. I couldn't. I think he's always been a tough player to play, especially when he's in his good rhythm. For me, it was important to stay focused on what I wanted to do.”

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It was the 38-year-old’s 30th five-set victory (30-25). According to Infosys ATP Stats, the only active players with more five-set wins are Novak Djokovic (37-10) and Marin Cilic (34-20).

When Ramos-Vinolas missed a final backhand long, the Court 14 crowd rose in unison to roar in celebration. Wawrinka pointed his left index finger towards his temple to signify that he had found a way through another difficult battle.

The Swiss only converted four of the 17 break points he earned, but his 76 winners were enough to advance to the second round. He will next play Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, who ousted 20th seed Daniel Evans in straight sets on Sunday.

“It's going to be an interesting match, for sure,” said Wawrinka of his clash with Kokkinakis. “I think it's the first time we are going to play each other. I know him, I saw him play many, many times. When he's healthy, like he's been this year, he's always a dangerous player.”

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Another player with strong Roland Garros pedigree, Dominic Thiem, came out on the wrong side of another five-setter as Pedro Cachin prevailed 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(1), 4-6, 6-2 against the two-time finalist.

After Cachin eased to a two-set lead in the pair’s first tour-level meeting, the former World No. 3 Thiem roared back into contention on Court 6. Despite the Austrian dominating the third-set tie-break and then clinching the fourth set to garner all the momentum heading into the decider, it was the World No. 64 Cachin who raised his game to seal a three-hour, 49-minute triumph.

Cachin struck 20 winners to Thiem’s 44 but was more consistent than his opponent en route to the second main draw win of his career at Roland Garros. The 28-year-old will aim to reach the third round for the first time at the clay-court major when he faces Borna Coric next. The 15th-seeded Croatian defeated Cachin’s countryman Federico Coria 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3.

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