Wawrinka dumped out of Rotterdam, Rublev advances
March 02 2021 10:40 PM
Karen Khachanov
Russia’s Karen Khachanov returns the ball to Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka during the Rotterdam ATP tournament yesterday. (AFP)

AFP/Rotterdam, Netherlands

Stan Wawrinka was knocked out of the Rotterdam ATP meeting in the first round yesterday after being seen off in straight sets 6-4, 7-5 by Russia’s Karen Khachanov. The three-time Grand Slam winner, playing in his first ATP match since losing a five-set epic to Marton Fucsovics at the Australian Open, was put away by world number 21 Khachanov in a fairly comfortable fashion.
Big-hitter Khachanov eased through the match without dropping a service game to eighth seed Wawrinka.
The 24-year-old will face British qualifier Cameron Norrie in the last 16. Khachanov’s countryman and fourth seed Andrey Rublev strolled into the next round thanks to a 7-6 (8/1), 6-3 win over American qualifier Marcos Giron.
Later last night, world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas was taking on Egor Gerasimov in his first match since falling at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open to Rotterdam top seed Daniil Medvedev.
On Monday, Andy Murray fought back from a set down to defeat home hope Robin Haase and claim his first top-level win of the year in Rotterdam. The former world number one suffered a first-round loss in his first ATP event of the season last week in Montpellier and was in danger of another early exit after dropping a one-sided opening set in the Netherlands.
But the three-time Grand Slam champion battled back to win 2-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 and book a last-16 meeting with Rublev. “I didn’t feel the ball right,” said 2009 Rotterdam winner Murray, who last won an ATP match at the US Open last September. “I kept fighting and this is really a mental victory. My tennis definitely needs to improve. Fortunately I have a day off to recover from this tough match and prepare for the second round.”
Murray, who like Haase is playing on a wildcard, looked to be staring defeat in the face on several occasions. The Briton, now ranked 123rd in the world after struggling with hip and groin injuries, saved two break points in the seventh game of the second set before racing through the tie-break to force a decider.
He trailed his fellow 33-year-old Haase 3-0 in the third set, but found form at just the right time to reel off six successive games to clinch victory. “It is a pity that I was not able to finish it in two sets,” said Haase, who has slipped to world number 193 after his own injury problems. “Murray remains a player who is never beaten until the final point. I have respect for Andy, because I know how hard it is to come back from an injury.”
Murray, who missed the Australian Open after testing positive for Covid-19, is playing only his second ATP Tour event since last October. Japanese star Kei Nishikori secured his first win of 2021, seeing off seventh-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (7/4), 6-1. “It was a very tight game, he was serving great especially in the first set and he won a lot on first serve,” said Nishikori.

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