Wawrinka Survives Scare In R1 Of Title Defence
Swiss battles through in five sets
Wawrinka and Rosol were facing each other again just four days after they played in the Geneva semi-finals, when the Swiss prevailed before going on to win his first ATP World Tour title on home soil with victory over Marin Cilic in the final.
“Really tough match today,” Wawrinka said. “He was playing really well. He was going for his shot. (He) didn't miss much until he started to get a little bit tired in the fourth set and fifth. But before that I was always under pressure.”
The 30-year-old Rosol is no stranger to pulling off huge Grand Slam upsets, having shocked Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon second round in 2012. He was looking to make Wawrinka the first defending men's singles champion to lose in the first round at Roland Garros, but the Swiss fought back hard to claim victory in three hours and 11 minutes on a cold and wet day in Paris.
“I didn't think about the Rafa match in Wimbledon. It's totally different. I just focused on today,” Rosol said. “It was a tough match. I had a chance in the fourth set, two break points to break his serve and to feel more comfortable on the court after, but I didn't make it.”
The start of play was delayed for more than three hours due to rain. In their third meeting this year, the Czech broke for a 3-2 lead before going on to seal the opener against Wawrinka. Wawrinka looked to be back on track when he raced through the second set to level the match, but Rosol again took an early lead in the third set and did not allow Wawrinka back in contention as he assumed a two-sets-to-one lead.
Wawrinka was denied an early break in the fourth set as Rosol saved four break points to level at 1-1. But the Swiss made a decisive move in the eighth game, breaking before serving out to send the match into a deciding set. Wawrinka carried his momentum into the fifth, breaking in the third game and going on to close out the win.
The 31-year-old Wawrinka won his second Grand Slam championship in Paris last year, when he denied Novak Djokovic the career Grand Slam by beating the Serb in an enthralling display in the final.
Eighth seed Milos Raonic made a strong start to his campaign, dismissing Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(5). The Canadian hit 41 winners and converted four of his 15 break points to defeat Tipsarevic, who was playing just his second tour-level match since the 2015 US Open after being sidelined through foot and knee injuries.
The 25-year-old Raonic was forced to miss Roland Garros last year, needing foot surgery, but the year before had reached the quarter-finals (l. to Djokovic).
“I was happy I was quite efficient on court. I was able to move on and really give myself something to prepare for in the next match and to be better,” said Raonic. “I'm in good shape. I feel physically strong and I have no nagging issues to start the tournament, which is nice.”
Tipsarevic was playing just his fourth tournament back after missing eight months due to right knee patella tendonitis. He had previously missed 18 months due to persistent foot issues that ultimately required two surgeries to remove a benign tumor on his left heel.
“I don’t feel I’m completely fit. This preseason was more about staying pain-free than really focusing on getting 100 per cent ready for the clay-court swing,” said Tipsarevic. “But four months ago I was in a hospital having surgery, so I’m happy with where I am now.”
French favorite Jeremy Chardy also moved into the second round. The 30th seed advanced past Argentina's Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. The 29 year old will face Czech Republic lucky loser Adam Pavlasek in the second round. Pavlasek beat Spaniard qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.
"When you come here you want to play really well, especially when you're preparing for it,” said Chardy. “I feel great physically. I feel that I'm playing well. I played a pretty robust match today…It was a dangerous match, and I'm happy that I came out this way and full of energy for the next round."
American Jack Sock prevailed in the final set against Robin Haase 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-2. The first-round match was tied at two sets apiece before rain cancelled play on Sunday. Sock, the 23rd seed, made the fourth round at Roland Garros last year. In the second round, the 23 year old will face German Dustin Brown, who outlasted Dudi Sela 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4.