French Open

Big scare for defending champion Stan Wawrinka at French Open

Swiss star struggles to see off Lukas Rosol in five tough sets in first round; women’s fourth seed Garbine Muguruza battles back from a set down to overcome Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 May, 2016, 12:16am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 May, 2016, 12:58am

Stan Wawrinka avoided becoming the first defending champion to lose in the first round at the French Open on Monday when he battled past combative Lukas Rosol in five tough sets.

Third seed Wawrinka fired 56 winners but committed 46 unforced errors and saved eight break points to book a second-round clash against Japan’s Taro Daniel.

Wawrinka, 31, had defeated 59th-ranked Rosol in the semi-finals of the Geneva clay-court tournament just last Friday.

But Rosol went into the match on a chilly Court Philippe Chatrier with the pedigree of having famously stunned Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012.

That free-swinging masterclass almost paid dividends again on Monday but once he had let slip two break points at 2-2 in the fourth set, his hopes slowly slipped away.

“It was a really tough match, the conditions were slow and heavy,” said Wawrinka. “I didn’t play my best tennis and made a lot of mistakes. But he was playing really well.

“It’s a good thing to get through, but it’s never the best to start with a five-set match and not play your best.

“I’m really happy with the way I found solutions. Now I have the chance to keep improving for the rest of the tournament.”

Spanish fourth seed Garbine Muguruza also struggled on Court Suzanne Lenglen, coming back from a set down to defeat Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Muguruza, who has made the quarter-finals for the last two years, will take on French wild card Myrtille Georges, the world number 203, for a place in the last 32.

But the 22-year-old Wimbledon runner-up was far from impressive in the two and-a-half hour encounter.

Play started two and-a-half hours late because of more rain with 12 of the 66 scheduled matches pushed back to Tuesday.

However, there was plenty of time for notable firsts.

Qualifier Cagla Buyukakcay beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 to become the first Turkish woman in the Open era to reach the second round of a grand slam.

Japan’s Naomi Osaka won her first match at Roland Garros with a 6-4, 7-5 triumph over Latvian 32nd seed Jelena Ostapenko.

Elsewhere, Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic, a 2014 quarter-finalist, defeated Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5).

Japan’s fifth seed Kei Nishikori completed his interrupted match against Simone Bolelli of Italy with a 6-1, 7-5, 6-3 win.

Nishikori goes on to face Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov after finishing off a first-round tie which had been suspended overnight with him leading 2-1 in the third set.

It was a 50th career grand slam match win for Nishikori who made the quarter-finals in Paris in 2015.