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Tennis

Wawrinka crashes out but Djokovic sails on

Stan Wawrinka's ranking will fall following his first round loss at the French Open.
Stan Wawrinka's ranking will fall following his first round loss at the French Open. Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

Former Roland Garros champions Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic enjoyed differing first round fortunes on Monday. Wawrinka, the 23rd seed lost in five sets to the unseeded Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez while Djokovic, seeded 20th, advanced to the second round.

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The Serb disposed of the qualifer Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3 6-4 6-4 and hailed a good test.

Wawrinka emerged from his defeat and targeted a return to the top table of world tennis. Last year’s beaten finalist will plummet down the world rankings to 250 because he has been unable to defend the points he acquired in last year's tournament.

The Swiss, who is recovering from knee surgery last summer, lost the opening set but regained his poise to win the second and third 6-3 6-4.

He led by a break in the fourth but could not press home his advantage. Garcia-Lopez won the tiebreak seven points to five and the mental and physical stamina in the closing stages.

“I'm obviously disappointed to lose in the first round when I was so close,” said Wawrinka. “But I'm much closer to where I want to be than before.”

The 33-year-old said he was prepared to play on the B circuit of the tour and accept wildcards - invitations - from tournament organisers to return to what he considers to be his proper place.

“I have no problem with that,” he added. “I’ve said all my career that the ranking doesn't lie. If you play and win you are at the top. If you don't play, you're going to go down.

“I know exactly where I want to be. I won three Grand Slams in my career and I know what it takes to do it. And my goal is to get to my top. Sooner or later I will be.”

Wawrinka claimed the Roland Garros crown in 2015 when he beat Novak Djokovic in the final. Djokovic is also returning from injury but the Serb is among the last 64. And grateful.

“He’s a clay court specialist,” said Djokovic after his win. “He plays with a lot of energy. He's a big fighter. I think I had some really good moments in the match and some not that great.

"So it wasn't easy. I did enough to win. It was a three-sets, solid two-hour-match win. It was good for the first match.”

 

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