Back in June 2017, Stan Wawrinka played in the Grand Slam final against Rafael Nadal in Paris but things were far from bright for the 3-time Grand Slam champion. Bothered by knee problems, he played only 2 more matches by the end of the season, losing in the first round at Queen's and Wimbledon before he had to undergo a surgery in August.
He spent the rest of the year recovering and preparing for the new season but it will take some time for Stan to get back to his usual level, which we saw here in Melbourne as well. He scored his first win in 6 months in the first round against Ricardas Berankis, prevailing in 4 sets without playing his best tennis, but his run had to end in the second round, in a very one-sided affair.
Namely, 2014 Australian Open champion lost to world number 97 Tennys Sandgren by 6-2 6-1 6-4 in just an hour and 29 minutes, scoring his worst result in Melbourne since 2008 when he retired against Marc Gicquel also in the second round. He refused to retire today, which is a good sign, but he was pretty much powerless against the American, who was rock solid from start to finish.
26-year-old from Gallatin, Tennessee, is playing in only his third Grand Slam main draw and he will play in the third round for the very first time, coming to Melbourne with just 2 ATP wins so far in a career. Former Tennessee Volunteer standout did just about everything right on the court, serving at 72% and losing only 13 points in his service games, facing just 2 break points.
On the other side, Wawrinka struggled to find his rhythm, movement, and groundstrokes, unable to impose his shots and outplay Sandgren with his usual pace and depth. American saved 2 break points in the 5th game and he closed the opening set in style, winning the last 4 games for a commanding 6-2.
He extended his run to 9 consecutive games, racing into a 5-0 lead in set number 2, and he delivered another easy hold in game 7 for 2 sets to love lead in less than an hour. Tennys moved closer to the finish line with a break at 15 at the start of the final set, and he served well until the end to score the biggest win of his career.
Stan raised his level a little bit in the third set but that wasn't enough to earn at least a set for him, leaving the court in disappointment and with a lot of work to be done in the following weeks in order to get back to the level he had before the injury.
Second round result: