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Wawrinka minces Murray in battle of former Grand Slam champions at French Open

Stan Wawrinka beat Andy Murray in straight sets to advance to the second round at the 2020 French Open.
Stan Wawrinka beat Andy Murray in straight sets to advance to the second round at the 2020 French Open. REUTERS - CHARLES PLATIAU

Stan Wawrinka won the battle of ageing former Grand Slam champions on Sunday at the French Open. The 35-year-old Swiss beat Andy Murray 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 in less than two hours.

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Wawrinka, the 2015 French Open champion, has suffered with knee problems over the past two years while 33-year-old Murray - winner of three majors - underwent surgery on his right hip in January 2019 in an attempt to prolong his career.

The pair's last contest on Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros ended in a five-set victory for Wawrinka after more than four hours of ferocious ground strokes and energy-sapping rallies.

There seemed little chance of a repeat of that semi-final epic from three years ago as Wawrinka powered his way into a two set lead after only 61 minutes.

Ascendance

The 16th seed broke Murray’s first service game in the third set and saved three break points on his way to a 2-0 lead.

The former world number one showed glimpses of his old élan to stay in touch but failed to threaten Wawrinka’s serve. It was all over after 96 minutes.

 

“Andy’s a great champion who’s won all the big prizes in the game,” Wawrinka told post-match interviewer Cedric Pioline. “It wasn’t certain that he would play again but so it is a pleasure to see him on the court.”

Elsewhere in the men’s draw there was a surpirse as the 11th seed David Goffin went down in straight sets to the unseeded Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, who was making his first appearance at Roland Garros.

Honour

The 19-year-old, who has been tipped for big things on the circuit, sports the honour of becoming the first player to win under the new retractable roof over Court Philippe Chatrier.

Sinner’s compatriot, Marco Cecchinato, also advanced to the second round following a straight sets win over the 25th seed Alex de Minaur.

It was a mixed day for the partisans. Veteran Jeremy Chardy squandered a match point on his way to a five set defeat to the 21-year-old Austrian qualifier Jurij Rodionov who had never won a match at a Grand Slam main draw.

Antoine Hoang lost to the German Dominik Koepfer in four sets but there were victories for the qualifier Benjamin Bonzi and the 23rd seed Benoit Paire .

In the women’s draw, the French number two, Caroline Garcia, withstood a fightback from the 17th seed Anett Kontaveit to prevail 6-4 in the decider.

“I’m really pleased with my attitude and my state of mind,” said Garcia. “I was a lot more aggressive in the third set and I fought right until the end.”

Birthday girl

Elsewhere in the women’s draw, the 10th seed Victoria Azarenka barely waited for the officials to call a pause before she left the court during her first round match against Danka Kovinic.

The 31-year-old former world number one complained about the dangerous conditions in the rain and cold as officials tried to make the players wait out a downpour on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

There were no such concerns under the centre court roof for the top seed Simona Halep.

Celebrating her 29th birthday, the 2018 champion won 10 consecutive games to come from a break down in the opening set to beat the unseeded Spaniard Sara Sorribes 6-4, 6-0.

“It feels special to be the first woman to win under the roof,” she said. "It’s an honour and a unique moment to be playing at Roland Garros on my birthday.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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