Stan Wawrinka made his long-awaited return to Monte Carlo but could not get past the first round after losing to Alexander Bublik in three sets.
The 24-year-old came back from a set down to beat the Swiss 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 in Wawrinka’s first singles match in 13 months in this tournament.
Wawrinka started off confidently against the Kazakh, showing glimpses of his peak years to win the first set with ease.
The 2014 champion squandered an opportunity to break Bublik early in the second set and staved off three set points to hold for 5-5 but could not prevent his determined Kazakh opponent from taking the contest into a decider.
In the decisive third, Bublik pulled ahead early and wrapped up the match in just over two hours. He surged to a 5-1 lead in the final set as Wawrinka faded before the 24-year-old closed out the victory.
Stan Wawrinka, the three-time grand slam champion, last competed on tour in March 2021 when he lost his opening match at the Qatar Open.
He’s had two surgeries on his left foot since then and months of difficult recovery.
Still, the physical and mental fatigue made him consider he might have returned to the tour too soon. He has not lined up other tournaments but intends to spend more time on practice.
Meanwhile, Marin Cilic overwhelmed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-2 in another contest, turning the Frenchman’s opening match in Monaco into his final clay-court appearance in a Masters event.
Tsonga, 36, announced last week he will retire after the French Open, hoping to put the final touches on an injury-plagued career in front of his home crowd.
A crowd of Tsonga’s loyal fans cheered him on in the principality but he was no match for the No. 22-ranked Cilic, who breezed to victory.
This year’s Monte Carlo event is without several top players, including Rafa Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, and Matteo Berrettini.
However, world number one Novak Djokovic returns to action against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in preparation for the French Open.