Wawrinka rediscovers panache to win first match since 2021 at the Italian Open

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Former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka registered his win on the senior circuit for 15 months when he beat the 14th seed Reilly Opelka 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 on Monday at the Italian Open in Rome.

Wawrinka, 37, a former world number three, has fallen to 350 in the rankings after struggling with an injury to his left foot.

He returned to the second tier challenger circuit in March in Marbella but he lost in the opening round and he suffered the same fate last month at the Monte Carlo Masters where he claimed the crown in 2014.

After going a break down in the second set, the 2015 French Open champion rallied via some trademark sweeping backhands to register his first victory on the senior circuit since the first round of the Australian Open in 2021.

The Swiss who also claimed Grand Slam tournament titles at the Australian Open and the US Open, will play Laslo Djere from Serbia for a place in the last 16.

Meltdown

Elsewhere, the 13th seed Denis Shapovalov took just over three hours to see off the local hero Lorenzo Sonego.

Shapovalov saved a set point on the way to winning the opener in the tiebreak. But he cracked towards the end of the second set under the constant barracking from the partisans.

At 40-40, while trying to level at 4-4, a second serve was called out. But the 23-year-old Canadian disputed the call with the umpire and crossed the net - a code violation - to show where he believed the ball had landed.

As the jeers and whistles increased, the call was confirmed to give Sonego the advantage and the Italian was awarded the game when Shapovalov was docked a point for the code violation.

Sonego served out to take the set 6-3.

However, Shapovalov regained his composure in the decider to claim it 6-3 and set up a second round match againt Nikoloz Basilashvili from Georgia.

Lost

French interest in the event ended on Monday after the elimination of Alizé Cornet, the only French player in the main draw of the women's and men's tournament.

Simona Halep dispatched her 6-4, 6-4 in 90 minutes to set up a second round meeting with Danielle Collins from the United States.

"It was very inconsistent," said the 32-year-old Frenchwoman. "Simona knew how to tighten up the game when she needed to.

In the men's tournament, France's top player Gaël Monfils withdrew last week to nurse a foot injury.

Benoît Paire, Ugo Humbert and Adrian Mannarino all fell during the qualifying tournament.

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