by Kevin Craig
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka survived a major scare on Monday at the French Open as he withstood a tremendous effort from Lukas Rosol and won in five sets, 4-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Rosol, the No. 59 player in the world from the Czech Republic, got off to a quick start in the first set as he broke Wawrinka for a 3-2 lead, but Wawrinka continued to battle despite going down a break as he took Rosol to deuce in two of his last three service games. The Czech stood strong and was able to close out the set, though, as he reminded tennis fans around the world that he is able to take out major champions, bringing back memories of his upset win over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012.
Rosol continued playing well early in the second set as his go-for-broke game plan was working out, but the two-time grand slam champion found something that clicked in the latter stages of the set and he forced Rosol into making a few more errors, earning himself two breaks and only losing two points in his last three service games to level the match at one set all.
After leveling the match, many would have thought Wawrinka would be able to cruise to victory, but Rosol did not go away and actually broke the No. 3 seed in his first service game of the third set. Just like in the first set, Rosol was able to keep his composure throughout and didn’t allow Wawrinka to earn a single break point as he regained a lead and was one set away from pulling off a major upset.
Despite dropping the third set, that is where Wawrinka believed the tides turned in his favor. “In the middle of the third set, I calmed down…I was trying to be really tough with him, and eventually that’s what made the difference,” said Wawrinka.
That difference was clearly felt in the fourth set as Wawrinka forced Rosol to play one bad service game at 3-4 that allowed Wawrinka to break at love and go on to serve out the set to force a decider.
Wawrinka was all business in the fifth set as he broke Rosol for a 2-1 lead and only lost six points on serve as he had no problems closing out the match and earning his spot in the second round, where he will take on Taro Daniel of Japan.
Wawrinka was in danger of becoming the first French Open men’s defending champion to lose in the first round, but he was able to fight off one of Rosol’s better performances of his career.
Another major champion in action on Monday did not have the same luck that Wawrinka did, as Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, lost in the first round to the No. 166 player in the world, Marco Trungelliti, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Trungelliti, a 26-year old from Argentina, got into the main draw after winning three qualifying matches, and earned his second win at a major after he also won a match at the Australian Open this year.
Cilic, the No. 10 seed in the event, went down a break early in the first set but appeared to work his way back to the match as he broke Trungelliti when the Argentine served for the first set. The lesser-experienced Trungelliti was surpringly able to keep his composure and saved three set points at 5-6 to force a tiebreak, which he was able to win 7-4 and stun Cilic.
Cilic went down a break early in the second set as he was broken in his first service game, but came back to break Trungelliti three times and looked like he had finally killed off the spirited upset bid from the Argentine.
That was far from the case, though, as Trungelliti continued to fight. Cilic went up a break late in the third set for a 4-2 lead, but was unable to consolidate as Trungelliti broke right back and ended up winning four games in a row to close out the set at 6-4, putting himself just one set away from what would be the biggest win of his career, by far.
Roles were reversed in the fourth set as Trungelliti looked like the major champion, breaking Cilic twice and not allowing the Croatian to see a single break point in the set, as not a single sign of nerves was shown. The Argentine closed out the four-set win emphatically with an ace, and booked a spot in the second round where he has a great opportunity to continue his run and make the third round, as he will take on Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain.
Trungelliti, who has never won a title above the Futures level, increased his best win by ranking by 61 spots after beating the No. 11 player in the world in Cilic. His previous best win came over Leonardo Mayer when he was ranked No. 72 in the world.