Defending champion Stan Wawrinka completed a stirring comeback in the first round at Roland Garros on Monday, battling past Lukas Rosol 4-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier.
Wawrinka and Rosol were facing each other again just four days after they played in the Geneva semi-finals, when the Swiss prevailed before going on to win his first ATP World Tour title on home soil with victory over Marin Cilic in the final.
“Really tough match today,” Wawrinka said. “He was playing really well. He was going for his shot. (He) didn’t miss much until he started to get a little bit tired in the fourth set and fifth. But before that I was always under pressure.”
The 30-year-old Rosol is no stranger to pulling off huge Grand Slam upsets, having shocked Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon second round in 2012. He was looking to make Wawrinka the first defending men’s singles champion to lose in the first round at Roland Garros, but the Swiss fought back hard to claim victory in three hours and 11 minutes on a cold and wet day in Paris.
“I didn’t think about the Rafa match in Wimbledon. It’s totally different. I just focused on today,” Rosol said. “It was a tough match. I had a chance in the fourth set, two break points to break his serve and to feel more comfortable on the court after, but I didn’t make it.”
The start of play was delayed for more than three hours due to rain. In their third meeting this year, the Czech broke for a 3-2 lead before going on to seal the opener against Wawrinka. Wawrinka looked to be back on track when he raced through the second set to level the match, but Rosol again took an early lead in the third set and did not allow Wawrinka back in contention as he assumed a two-sets-to-one lead.
Wawrinka was denied an early break in the fourth set as Rosol saved four break points to level at 1-1. But the Swiss made a decisive move in the eighth game, breaking before serving out to send the match into a deciding set. Wawrinka carried his momentum into the fifth, breaking in the third game and going on to close out the win.
The 31-year-old Wawrinka won his second Grand Slam championship in Paris last year, when he denied Novak Djokovic the career Grand Slam by beating the Serb in an enthralling display in the final.