Wawrinka, Federer survive first-round tests at Australian Open on Monday
By Ricky Dimon
Fellow Swiss stars and former Australian Open champions Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer had to work hard in their respective first-round showdowns on Monday night in Melbourne. In the end, Wawrinka edged Martin Klizan and Federer battled past Jurgen Melzer in front of entertained evening-session crowds.
It was especially difficult for Wawrinka.
The 2014 Australian Open champion was two Klizan service holds away from losing on opening day, but Klizan failed to come up with one. Leading 4-3 in the fifth set with a break in his pocket, the Slovak dropped the last three games of what was a surprisingly competitive contest. Wawrinka came up clutch when it mattered most to survive 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in three hours and 24 minutes.
”It was tough one, for sure,” Wawrinka reflected. “But I’m really happy to get through in five sets. It wasn’t my best tennis today, but I was fighting (and) trying to stay in the game. I think he was playing well; he didn’t give me too much rhythm. He made me play not my best tennis. I’m happy to get through; that’s the most important thing.”
Federer also got through his first official match since losing to Milos Raonic in the Wimbledon semifinals last summer. Returning from a knee injury, Federer found himself deadlocked with Melzer–also 35 years old–at one set apiece before picking up the pace en route to a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory.
“I’m happy I was made to work today,” the 17th-seeded Swiss said. “Actually, at the end I’m quite happy how I ended, which is most important…. It was great to be out there. I really enjoyed myself, even though it wasn’t so simple.”
It certainly wasn’t as simple as the last six months, during which Federer stayed at home in Switzerland with his family for the most part while waiting for the knee to heal.
“It’s decided, you’re home and you’re not [playing tennis] and just deal with it,” Federer added, referring to his state of mind while being forced out of tennis. “I’m old enough that I can handle it, and it wasn’t depressing at home at all. It was great…. This match tonight was more about how I coped with my comeback (than it was about my level of play). I’m happy with how it went. It’s only going to get easier.”