Tennis: Defending champ Stan Wawrinka escapes historic blow, Italian veterans crash

Stanislas Wawrinka reacts after beating Lukas Rosol during their men's first round match at Roland Garros on Monday.
Stanislas Wawrinka reacts after beating Lukas Rosol during their men's first round match at Roland Garros on Monday. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Stan Wawrinka avoided becoming the first defending champion to lose first round at the French Open on Monday when he battled past combative Lukas Rosol in five tough sets.

Third seed Wawrinka fired 56 winners but committed 46 unforced errors and needed to save eight break points to book a second round clash against Japan's Taro Daniel.

Wawrinka, 31, had defeated 59th-ranked Rosol in the semi-finals of the Geneva clay-court tournament just last Friday.

But Rosol went into the match on a chilly Court Philippe Chatrier with the pedigree of having famously stunned Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012.

That free-swinging masterclass almost paid dividends again Monday but once he had let slip two break points at 2-2 in the fourth set, his hopes slowly slipped away.

"He's typically very aggressive and puts a lot of pressure. That's what he did today," said Wawrinka of a match played out in temperatures of just 12 degrees. "He left me very little space to move, and he fought very hard. I was very happy to pick up the fifth set in spite of the cold."

Japan's fifth seed Kei Nishikori reached the second round with a 6-1, 7-5, 6-3 win over Simone Bolelli of Italy.

Nishikori goes on to face Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov after finishing off a first-round tie which had been suspended overnight with him leading 2-1 in the third set.

It was a 50th career Grand Slam match win for Nishikori who made the quarter-finals in Paris in 2015.

Spanish fourth seed Garbine Muguruza struggled on Court Suzanne Lenglen, coming back from a set down to defeat Slovakia's Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Muguruza, who has made the quarter-finals for the last two years, will next take on French wildcard Myrtille Georges, the world number 203.

But the 22-year-old Wimbledon runner-up was far from impressive.

After dropping the first set, Muguruza had to save nine break points just in the opening game of the second.

She then allowed her 37th-ranked opponent, who has won just one match all year, to claw her way back from 0-4 down to 3-4 in the decider before the Spaniard settled herself to see out the win.

Muguruza fired 44 winners but hit 53 unforced errors and had to save 17 of 21 break points.

"I think I had the music on or something. I didn't really listen and the supervisor came, and they're like, 'We're waiting for you'. I'm like, 'No way'. I start to do running and jumping fast. So I didn't have the time to really warm up," she said.

Seeds falling by the wayside included seventh seed Roberta Vinci, the Italian who stunned Serena Williams at the US Open semi-finals last year.

The 33-year-old suffered a third successive first-round exit in Paris going down 6-1, 6-3 to Kateryna Bondarenko who hadn't won a match at the French Open since 2010.

Vinci's Italian 16th seeded compatriot Sara Errani, the 2012 runner-up, lost to 2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova 6-3, 6-2.

Also heading out was Czech 17th seed Karolina Pliskova who lost 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to 108th-ranked Shelby Rogers of the United States.

Second seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, however, brushed aside Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski 6-0, 6-2.

Radwanska, a quarter-finalist in 2013 but who lost in the first round to Germany's Annika Beck last year, goes on to face Caroline Garcia of France.

Monday's result left Jovanovski, the world number 120, without a win in 2016.

Romanian sixth seed Simona Halep, the 2014 runner-up, also progressed, taking just 43 minutes to defeat Japan's Nao Hibino 6-2, 6-0.

Play started two and a half hours late Monday because of more rain with 12 of the 66 scheduled matches pushed back to Tuesday.

However, there was time for a notable first.

Qualifier Cagla Buyukakcay beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 5-7, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 to become the first Turkish woman in the Open era to reach the second round of a Grand Slam.

Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic, a 2014 quarter-finalist, defeated Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5).

Tipsarevic was playing his first Roland Garros since 2013 after being treated for a benign tumour on his left foot.

Later Monday, second seed Andy Murray, a three-time semi-finalist, takes on 37-year-old Radek Stepanek, the oldest man in the draw.