French Open defending champ Wawrinka wins in five sets

Howard Fendrich
Associated Press

Paris — So, Stan Wawrinka was asked, were you aware that in the long history of the French Open, no defending champion ever had lost in the first round?

“No,” Wawrinka replied quickly, his arms crossed, the hint of a smirk on his scruffy face. After waiting a comedic beat, he added with a chuckle: “And it’s still not the case, so it’s good.”

Sure, by then, it was easy for the 2015 champion at Roland Garros to kid around, because he barely avoided making the sort of history no athlete would embrace. Eventually warming up on a gray, chilly afternoon, and twice coming back from a set down, Wawrinka edged 59th-ranked Lukas Rosol, 4-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, on Monday to advance.

“I know that physically I’m stronger than he is, and I knew that he was going to decline a little bit,” the third-seeded Wawrinka said. “That’s exactly what happened.”

This would not have been the first significant and surprising victory of Rosol’s career. He beat No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the second round at Wimbledon in 2012, displaying the same sort of go-for-broke, flat groundstrokes and intimidating serve he used to such great effect against Wawrinka.

Wawrinka and Rosol played four times before Monday, with Wawrinka winning each, most recently last week at Geneva.

Not quite complete

No. 2 Andy Murray dropped the first two sets to 128th-ranked qualifier Radek Stepanek, who at 37 is the oldest man in the field. Their match, however, was suspended until today because of darkness.

After Stepanek raced to a 6-3, 6-3 lead, his legs began to falter, and Murray started to work his way back into the match.

The two-time major champion took the third set 6-0, and was up a break at 4-2 in the fourth when they stopped. As dusk began to arrive, Murray accused his opponent of gamesmanship, complaining to the chair umpire Stepanek was trying to delay the proceedings.

“How many things can he do to slow the play down?” Murray said after Stepanek headed to the locker room before the third set. “Keep an eye on how long this toilet break is.”

Net shots

No. 4 women’s seed Garbine Muguruza, on her 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Anna Schmiedlova: “We didn’t have time to warm up, only the 10 minutes. ... Even though I was running and playing, I felt like cold.”

... Former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki was upset by Veronica Cepede Royg, 6-2, 6-2.