Monaco, April 11 (IANS) Russia-born Kazakhstani professional tennis player Alexander Bublik ensured it would not be a winning return for Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland at the Monte-Carlo Masters, defeating the 2014 champion 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the second round here on Monday.
Former World No. 3 Wawrinka was competing in his first tour-level match in 13 months and he showed little sign of rustiness for large periods as he crushed forehands and hit his trademark backhand with great depth and topspin.
However, the 37-year-old was unable to maintain his best level as the match wore on, with World No. 36 Bublik causing Wawrinka problems with his powerful serve and variety of shots as he pulled the wild card around the court to claim his first win at the event in two hours and five minutes.
With this victory, Bublik now leads Wawrinka 1-0 in their ATP series and will next face 13th seed Pablo Carreno Busta or Argentine qualifier, Sebastian Baez, in the second round.
Argentine Diego Schwartzman showed his fighting spirit as he battled past Karen Khachanov 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 to improve to 10-3 on the season on clay.
The 12th seed, who advanced into the quarter-finals in Monte-Carlo in 2017, reached the finals in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro in February. The 29-year-old will face Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in the second round.
Meanwhile, Australian Alex de Minaur eliminated Spanish qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-3, 6-4 in 83 minutes. World No. 25 De Minaur is making his second appearance at the clay-court event, having fallen in the first round in 2021.
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