Tennis-Wawrinka sends Murray packing in French Open first round

  • Tennis
  • Monday, 27 May 2024

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 26, 2024 Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka celebrates after winning his first round match against Britain's Andy Murray REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) -Former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka handed Andy Murray a 6-4 6-4 6-2 first-round defeat under the lights at Roland Garros on Sunday, ending what is likely the Briton's last appearance at the claycourt Grand Slam.

The duo shared a long embrace and a heartfelt conversation at the net when the dust had settled following their 23rd career meeting and Wawrinka heaped praise on Murray during his press conference later.

"We're getting closer to the end and we played so many times over the last 20 years," Wawrinka said.

"A lot of emotion. It was amazing to be in the Chatrier night session, something I never had a chance to do. He (Murray) is an amazing guy, amazing player, such a big fighter.

"We have a lot of respect for each other."

Swiss Wawrinka came into the clash having won two of the duo's three matches at the major, including a draining five-setter in the 2017 semi-finals from which Murray's creaking hip never recovered and eventually forced him to have surgeries.

Having sent Murray packing in straight sets in the opening round four years ago, the 39-year-old Wawrinka shot out of the blocks again by grabbing a break in the first game.

The 2015 champion wrapped up the opening set on the back of a couple of booming serves and pounced in the third game of the second set with a string of heavy single-handed backhands from the baseline to heap the pressure on Murray.

The Briton, who at 37 has stated that he is unlikely to play beyond the summer, rode a wave of support at Philippe Chatrier court and battled on but was unable to prevent fellow three-times Grand Slam champion Wawrinka from going two sets up.

A medical timeout for Wawrinka's left calf issue delayed the start of the third set, but 2016 runner-up Murray's movement was also compromised due to an apparent leg issue that allowed his opponent to run away with the contest.

"I think I played my best match of the year," Wawrinka added. "I was feeling good. I was moving well. I was playing aggressive. I liked the conditions. I'm super happy with the performance and the level. It's really positive for me."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in ParisEditing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris)

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