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Returning Stan Wawrinka knocked out by Alexander Bublik in Monte Carlo Masters opener


Stan Wawrinka marked his return to tour level competition for the first time in 13 months by showing glimpses of his old form but lost to Alexander Bublik in the first round of the Monte Carlo Masters.

The Swiss won the first set but ultimately went down 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 on Monday.

The three-time grand slam champion suffered a foot injury early in 2021 and had surgery in March last year before another operation three months later, only returning to action at a Challenger Tour tournament in Marbella last month.

While the 37-year-old was beaten in the first round of that event there were few signs of rustiness against world No 36 Bublik on Court Rainier III as he raced through the first set in only 27 minutes to seize the early advantage in the contest.

Wawrinka, the 2014 Monte Carlo Masters champion, squandered an opportunity to break Bublik early in the second set and staved off three set points to hold for 5-5 but could not prevent his determined Kazakh opponent from taking the contest into a decider.

Bublik found his groove to race ahead 5-1 in the third set as Wawrinka appeared to fade before the 24-year-old closed out the victory in style.

“I’m still far away from where I want to be, but I think I’m in the right direction,” Wawrinka said after defeat. “It was much better than what I was expecting.

“I need a lot more practice and I need to work hard on my tennis and my physical condition.”

Stan Wawrinka was defeated in three sets in Monte Carlo

(Getty Images)

Former semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s final appearance at the Masters 1000 tournament ended in disappointment after the Frenchman was beaten 6-2, 6-2 by Marin Cilic. Tsonga has announced his decision to retire after the French Open.

Ninth seed Jannik Sinner went through with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Borna Coric, who showed plenty of fight in only his third tournament of the season after a year out following a shoulder injury.

Earlier, 2019 champion Fabio Fognini beat Arthur Rinderknech 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 while Sebastian Korda powered past Botic van de Zandschulp 7-5, 6-4 and Albert Ramos-Vinolas downed Tallon Griekspoor 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

The tournament is without a number of big names, including Rafa Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini although world No 1 Novak Djokovic returns to action and meets Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Tuesday.

Reuters

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