Stan Wawrinka’s clay-court season is off to a winning start, eliminating Australian Open 2019 semifinalist Lucas Pouille in the Monte Carlo opening round.
The No.36-ranked Wawrinka fought back from a 3-5 deficit in the opening set to record a 7-5 6-3 victory at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament.
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“The beginning was a bit tough, I was hesitating, I was a bit slow, I was nervous and I was looking a little bit for the conditions,” Wawrinka told ATPTour.com.
“He took advantage, he broke me directly and then I started to play a little bit better. I started to know a bit more what I had to do. I broke back, he did one mistake and I did one good point and then suddenly the match turned. He felt under pressure, I started to play a bit better, more aggressive and I am happy with the win.”
Wawrinka is one of three former champions in the Monte Carlo draw this week, alongside 11-time winner Rafael Nadal and world No.1 Novak Djokovic. The 34-year-old Swiss player now faces either 11th seed Marco Cecchinato or Damir Dzumhur in the second round.
Wawrinka was sidelined for most of the clay season in 2018, which means he has little ranking points to defend in coming weeks unlike many of his top-ranked peers.
Ninth seed Borna Coric needed almost three hours to overcome Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, eventually closing out a 6-4 5-7 7-5 win, while Grigor Dimitrov proved too solid in a 7-5 6-4 win against Italian Matteo Berrettini.
Argentine Guido Pella also advanced to the second round, defeating Serbian Laslo Djere 6-7(2) 6-2 6-4. It sets up a second-round clash with No.7 seed Marin Cilic – a rematch of their Wimbledon encounter last year, which Pella won in five sets.
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