Andy Murray exits French Open at first round after straight sets defeat against Stan Wawrinka in his first match at Roland Garros since 2017
- Andy Murray was making his first appearance at Roland Garros for three years
- Stan Wawrinka easily overcame Murray 6-1 6-3 6-2 in French Open first round
- Murray’s lack of playing time was evident as he was dispatched by Wawrinka
- Murray’s defeat follows Dan Evans’ narrow loss to Kei Nishikori in a five-set epic
Roland Garros was so bleak on Sunday it felt like the zombie Grand Slam, and Andy Murray contributed a performance that was entirely in keeping.
The 33 year-old Scot went down to his equal heaviest defeat in a Major, against the same opponent who faced him on the same court on his last visit here.
That encounter in 2017 against Stan Wawrinka was a gruelling five-setter, this one was all over in an hour and 47 minutes and yielded just six games for Murray. That tally was on a par with what Rafael Nadal allowed him at the French Open six years ago.
Andy Murray leaves court after being thrashed by 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka
It was a hugely frustrating day for Murray as he was defeated in straight sets by Wawrinka
Wawrinka celebrates following his emphatic victory over the Brit at Roland Garros
In his post-operative state it is beginning to look like the law of diminishing returns at the Slams for the twice Wimbledon champion.
His 6-1 6-3 6-2 defeat to the burly Swiss comes on the back of him only managing nine games against young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round of the US Open.
Some mitigation can be offered for both results, although in Sunday’s case that does not extend to the arctic cold and wind that made it feel like the autumn had fast-forwarded into winter.
‘I need to have a long, hard think about it,’ admitted Murray. ‘It’s not for me the sort of match I would just brush aside and not give any thought to. I don’t feel like the conditions are an excuse for it.’
Former champion Mats Wilander, working for Eurosport, commented that it left him wondering why Murray was trying to come back: ‘Does he have the right to be out there taking wildcards from young players?’ asked the Swede. ‘I think Andy Murray needs to stop thinking of himself and start thinking about who he was. I love the fact that he is back and trying. Hopefully he’ll figure out why he’s doing it.’
In New York the current world number 111 was still sore from an epic first round. Here the speed of the court and balls, or lack of it, suited his opponent perfectly.
Wawrinka, the 2015 Paris champion, has the power to barrel through any court, unlike the version of Murray we see at this late stage of his career.
Murray’s lack of playing time was exposed by Wawrinka in the French Open first round
Yet life was made easier for him by the dismal serving display the Swiss was up against, which was acknowledged by his opponent.
‘It was cold and slow conditions, but it wasn’t like particularly windy and it wasn’t too bad,’ conceded Murray. ‘I also didn’t play well. I served under 40% first serves in the court, which is just not good enough, really, against anyone, and especially someone as good as Stan. You want to be serving in the 60%, that sort of region.
‘From there, that kind of allows whoever you’re playing to dictate more of the points.’
While he will never be the extraordinary athlete that he was before the summer of 2017 he at least expects his hand skills to be somewhere near where they were.
It would not be a huge surprise if he were to start experimenting with equipment changes such as with his racket and strings to try and come up with a solution.
Dark clouds look at Ronald Garros during Murray’s first round contest with the Swiss star
‘There have been matches that I have played since I came back where I hit the ball well,’ he reasoned. ‘Alex Zverev was a couple of points away from winning the US Open, and I won against him the week beforehand. It’s going to be difficult for me to play the same level as I did before, but I’ll keep going.
‘Let’s see what the next few months holds, I reckon I won’t play a match like that between now and the end of the year. Probably the only positive of today is I will get more time to prepare for the indoor hard courts coming up.’
He plans to play as much as he can until November, starting with two events in Cologne next month. It was in such an environment that he beat Wawrinka last autumn to win the European Open, in stark contrast to last night.
There was also confirmation that he is prepared to go through the two-week quarantine period that the Australian Open has announced for anyone wishing to compete Down Under in January.
Dan Evans exited French Open after a titanic five-set tussle with Kei Nishikori on Sunday