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Wawrinka beats Opelka for first ATP win in 15 months

The three-time Grand Slam champion wins the first match of his comeback and will next meet Laslo Djere in the second round in Rome

Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka in action during his first round match at the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka in action during his first round match at the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

ATP Rome Masters | Draws | Schedule

Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka scored his first ATP win in over 15 months, coming from a set and a break down to defeat American Reilly Opelka in three sets to reach the second round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

The 37-year-old Swiss has just returned from a long injury layoff caused from a foot injury which required surgery and extensive rehabilitation.

It was the former world No 3’s first win since February 2021 and only the third match of his comeback after a year on the sidelines.

Wawrinka returns from being a point away from going 6-3, 5-2 down to win

Seeded 14th, the big-serving Opelka won the first set 6-3 and led 4-2 in the second set. Wawrinka saved a break point in the seventh game that could have seen him go down 5-2 but bounced back to hold and then break Opelk’a serve for the first time in the match and level the set at 4-4.

Wawrinka then saved five break points in a marathon 11th game and held his serve and broke Opelka, who won the Houston title last month, again to claim the second set 7-5.

Bolstered by his second set revival, Wawrinka carried on the momentum into the third set, breaking the formidable Opelka serve twice in the final set to complete the 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 win in two hours and five minutes.

Wawrinka and Opelka have now split their two career meetings.

The Swiss, who lost in the first round of the ATP Marbella Challenger and the Monte-Carlo Masters since his comeback in February, will next meet Laslo Djere, who beat Borna Coric 6-2, 6-7, 6-2 in another first-round on Monday.

Wawrinka could meet world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the third round in Rome, with the Serb scheduled to meet Aslan Karatsev in the second round.

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