Wawrinka relieved, Murray teeters on the brink

Mon May 23, 2016 4:42pm EDT
 
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By Martyn Herman

PARIS (Reuters) - Defending champion Stan Wawrinka breathed a huge sigh of relief and Andy Murray faced a sleepless night after both got bogged down by belligerent Czechs at a sodden French Open on Monday.

A day that began two hours late after torrential rain ended with world number two Murray hanging on against 37-year-old Czech qualifier Radek Stepanek having lost the opening two sets in the Philippe Chatrier Court gloom.

When play was finally suspended Murray had repaired some of the damage but still trailed 3-6 3-6 6-0 4-2.

Third seed Wawrinka did book his place in the second round, although his path to victory against straight-hitting Lukas Rosol was equally tortuous.

The Swiss, decked out in an eye-straining fluorescent yellow shirt, was left in the shade by the world number 59 and twice trailed by a set before his opponent tired and he scratched out a 4-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory.

Wawrinka puffed out his cheeks after tucking away a volley on his third match point, happy to have avoided becoming the first defending men's champion to lose his opening match since Australian Lew Hoad in 1957.

It was touch and go, however, as Rosol, who famously knocked out Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon second round in 2012, threatened another huge upset with his murderous groundstrokes.

"A really tough match, the conditions were slow and heavy," Wawrinka, who only arrived on Saturday hours after winning the Geneva title, told reporters.   Continued...

 
Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka returns the ball.  French Open - Roland Garros - Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka vs Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol Paris, France - 23/05/16.  REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes