Defending French Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka suffered a major scare in his first round match with Czech Lukas Rosol, before eventually prevailing in five sets.
The Swiss had to recover from two sets to one down to see off the world number 59 in three hours and ten minutes
Wawarinka, who could meet Britton’s Andy Murray in the semi-final, won 4-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-4 against an inspired opponent, who played well above his deceiving ranking.
Wawrinka will now play either Slovakia’s Martin Klizan or Japan’s Taro Daniel in the second round.
Strong Start From Rosol
At 30 years of age, Rosol is still best remembered for his memorable victory over Rafael Nadal on the grass at Wimbledon back in 2012.
On that occasion Rosol’s piercing ground stokes and all round aggressive game saw him overpower the great Spaniard. On Parisian clay Rosol was also gave Wawrinka plenty of issues in the opening set, which the Czech claimed in 44 minutes.
The warning lights were flashing for the defending champion in the very first game when he was forced to save a break point with one of his trademark backhands.
The heavy conditions caused by the earlier downpour in Paris played a part in nullifying the ominous Wawrinka attack, which was at its devastating best the last time he played on the Philippe Chatrier court when he beat Novak Djokovic in the final last year.
Here Rosol was able to stand up to the Swiss and go toe to toe with him from the baseline, he claimed a decisive break in the fifth game of the match and that was enough as he went on to deservingly take the set by six games to four.
As you’d expect from a defending champion Wawrinka responded and, after steeling an early break of serve, he steamrollered through the second set.
At that point it appeared the defending champion was beginning to find his range, yet after striking early in the third, Rosol quickly brought back the memories of that Nadal upset from four years ago.
The Czech continuously thwarted Wawrinka's second serve and kept the Swiss guessing with his intelligent use of the drop shot.
After storming into a 3-0 lead, Rosol maintained his advantage throughout the third set and rediscovered his first serve which had gone astray in the second.
Despite winning the ATP event in Geneva last week, Wawrinka’s clay court form had been patchy coming into Roland Garros. The Swiss won just five games against Nadal in the quarter finals of the Monte Carlo Masters in April, he then suffered shock defeats to Nick Kyrgios and world number 114 Juan Monaco in Madrid and Rome respectively.
The Defending Champion Survives
Even so the champions' mentality soon kicked in, and after Rosol saved three break points in the second game of the fourth Wawrinka took his chance a couple of games later.
Rosol continued to throw everything at Wawrinka at the start of the fifth but slowly began to fade in his quest to overthrow the defending champion.
A single break at the start of the fifth proved pivotal as Wawrinka finally closed out the match and avoided becoming the first champion to lose in the first round the next year.