Spain's Rafael Nadal serves the ball during the first round match of the French Open tennis tournament against Robby Ginepri of the U.S. at the Roland Garros stadium

A top seed falls at French Open

The positive vibes and big-deal victories began for Stan Wawrinka at last year’s U.S. Open, back when he still went by “Stanislas,” and picked up steam at this year’s Australian Open, where he earned the right to forever be called “major champion.” And yet all of that seemed so far away late Monday at the French Open as dusk approached — and defeat became apparent — in Wawrinka’s first Grand Slam match since winning his first major title.

PARIS — The positive vibes and big-deal victories began for Stan Wawrinka at last year’s U.S. Open, back when he still went by “Stanislas,” and picked up steam at this year’s Australian Open, where he earned the right to forever be called “major champion.”

And yet all of that seemed so far away late Monday at the French Open as dusk approached — and defeat became apparent — in Wawrinka’s first Grand Slam match since winning his first major title.

Surprisingly, Wawrinka looked listless. More stunningly, he looked very little like a guy who was seeded No. 3 behind Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic and proclaimed himself “one of the favourites” just a few days earlier. In by far the biggest development of the tournament’s first two days, Wawrinka lost in the first round at Roland Garros with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 defeat to 41st-ranked Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.

“I was trying to find my game, trying … to be aggressive, trying to find anything. And I didn’t,” said Wawrinka, whose trademark one-handed backhanded was off-target throughout. “I was completely flat.”

He is the first Australian Open champ to exit in the first round of that year’s French Open since Petr Korda in 1998.

Garcia-Lopez has never been past the third round at a major.

During a pre-tournament news conference Friday, Wawrinka spoke about deriving confidence from his recent spate of success.

Long in the shadow of Roger Federer, his Swiss Davis Cup and Olympic teammate, not to mention good friend, Wawrinka reached his first major semifinal in New York last September, beating defending champion Andy Murray before losing a five-setter to Djokovic. In January, Wawrinka topped Nadal in the Australian Open final.

Boosting his clay-court bona fides heading to Paris, Wawrinka defeated Federer in April’s final at the Monte Carlo Masters.

While he’s never been beyond the quarterfinals at the French Open, Wawrinka seemed primed to do so.

Instead, he lost in the first round in Paris for the first time since 2006, when he was only 21.

“I need to put the puzzle back together, but differently than in the past,” Wawrinka said, “because now — after winning a Grand Slam, (Monte Carlo), being No. 3 in the world — everything is different.”

Wawrinka — who recently told the ATP he’d rather go by the shortened version of his first name — finished with 62 unforced errors, 34 more than Garcia-Lopez.

“I think what made him lose is he was not very strong mentally — and I was,” said Garcia-Lopez, who thought the match would be suspended because of impending darkness; there are no artificial lights on French Open courts.

“I’m not as overwhelmed by emotions as I used to be,” Garcia-Lopez said. “I played my game, on my terms.”

Wawrinka’s loss means yet another season will pass without one man winning the Australian Open and French Open; Jim Courier was the last to accomplish that double, in 1992.

Another top-10 man lost Monday when No. 9 Kei Nishikori of Japan was eliminated by Martin Klizan of Slovakia. No. 17 Roberta Vinci of Italy was the only seeded woman to exit Monday, when winners included 2012 champion Maria Sharapova and 2011 Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova.

Nadal and Djokovic, meanwhile, looked very much like the top two seeds.

No. 2 Djokovic’s victory was a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory against 44th-ranked Joao Sousa of Portugal. Nadal improved to 60-1 at the French Open by winning 6-0, 6-3, 6-0 over Robby Ginepri, an American ranked 279th.

Just Posted

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

Red Deer officials will allow Calgary to trial alcohol in parks

The result could determine if local rules are relaxed

Red Deer city council could provide more clarity around closed-door meetings, says review

Confidential matters were found to be handled appropriately by city

Special lift improves Lacombe patients’ therapy

A new mobility lift is helping physical therapy patients at Lacombe Hospital… Continue reading

Red Deer group is pushing to create a local ‘international village’ to promote unity

A city made up of immigrants has no place for intolerance, say group members

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Company issues lifetime ban after man jumps from cruise ship

Nick Naydev posted the video last week showing him standing on the balcony of the Symphony of the Seas

Unruly passenger forces B.C.-bound flight to divert to Calgary

Police say charges are pending against a woman in her 40s

Inflation rises as higher airfares, veggie prices offset cheaper gas

Statistics Canada says inflation accelerated to two per cent in December

Canadian tattoo artist inks Toronto skyline on Blue Jays pitcher Stroman

Marcus Stroman found a way to show his appreciation for Toronto when… Continue reading

Team World sweeps opening day against Team North America at Continental Cup

LAS VEGAS — Team North America has some serious ground to make… Continue reading

SXSW to screen ‘Run This Town,’ which includes Rob Ford character

TORONTO — A drama that features a portrayal of the late Toronto… Continue reading

Most Read