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Wawrinka takes down old foe Murray in French Open 1st round

Clive Brunskill / Getty Images Sport / Getty

PARIS (AP) — Stan Wawrinka repeatedly used his trademark one-handed backhand to get the better of Andy Murray at the French Open once again, beating him 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday night in what might have been Murray's last singles match at Roland Garros.

Wawrinka, at 39, is just the third man of at least that age to win a match at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament since 1980, joining his Swiss countryman and pal Roger Federer, who did it in 2021, and Ivo Karlovic, who did it two years earlier.

Murray just turned 37, and this first-rounder was the second-oldest combined age for two men in Paris since 2000. And by the end, neither appeared to be in the best of shape. First it was Wawrinka who appeared to be dealing with a problem with his left leg, which he stretched at a changeover late in the second set before taking a medical timeout. Then Murray looked to be a bit hobbled, unable to quite move the way he usually can — even after having hip replacement surgery a few years ago.

When it ended, Murray and Wawrinka met at the net for a handshake, an embrace and then a lengthy chat. Wawrinka joined the fans in applauding for Murray as he headed toward the locker room.

This was by far the most eagerly anticipated match of Day 1 at the year’s second Grand Slam tournament, featuring a pair of guys who each own a trio of major trophies. Wawrinka's collection includes the 2015 French Open; Murray was the runner-up at Roland Garros the following year and has won Wimbledon twice, the U.S. Open once and a pair of Olympic singles gold medals.

It was not quite on the level of the Day 2 showcase — Rafael Nadal vs. Alexander Zverev — but it earned the high-profile spot in the night session and drew a crowd that loudly cheered both Murray and Wawrinka when they stepped out onto the court and under the lights.

Before play began Sunday, tournament director Amélie Mauresmo said she was putting off a planned farewell ceremony for Nadal, who most everyone figured would be competing at the French Open for the final time but said this weekend he didn't want to close the door on a return.

Similarly, Mauresmo said there wouldn't be that sort of adieu to Murray, who indicated earlier this year he might be done after this summer. As it is, he is not done in Paris, because he and Dan Evans received a wild-card entry for doubles.

Murray recently returned after tearing ankle ligaments at the Miami Open in March and is now 1-3 since getting back.

This was his fourth consecutive appearance at the French Open that included a match against Wawrinka. Wawrinka won their 2015 semifinal, Murray won a semifinal the next year, and Wawrinka won their first-round contest in 2020.

Both men drew gasps from spectators with their hard-hit groundstrokes and both tossed in a bit of guile, too, including an early serve-and-volley from Wawrinka.

Wawrinka, who has dealt with his own series of health issues over the years, goes on to meet No. 32 Cam Norrie or Pavel Kotov in the second round.

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