Stan Wawrinka has gained his first win in 15 months, but Dominic Thiem continued to struggle on his return to the circuit at the Italian Open.
There was also victory in Rome for Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur who beat Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 6-1, in 100 minutes.
Having beaten the Serbian, who is ranked 64, 42 places beneath him, de Minaur now faces American world No.34 Tommy Paul who beat Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4 6-4.
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In the most controversial match of a busy Monday Canada’s Denis Shapovalov won despite receiving a point penalty for a code violation while disputing calls with the umpire.
Three-time grand slam champion Wawrinka, whose most recent major success came at the 2016 US Open, was competing in just his second ATP Tour match in 14 months after recovering from two surgeries on a foot injury. Facing American No.14 seed Reilly Opelka, a semi-finalist last year, he won 3-6 7-5 6-2.
Opelka held the initiative at a set up and 4-2 ahead in the second, but the 37-year-old Swiss recovered well to win his first match since since the 2021 Australian Open.
Wawrinka said: “Physically I was feeling great. When you don’t win a match in more than a year, you start to think always about it more than what you should and not focus on the right things. I started to feel much better with my tennis by the end of the second set, and I’m really happy with this victory.”
He now faces qualifier Laslo Djere who beat Borna Coric 6-2 6-7 (7-3) 6-2.
Thiem, however is out beaten by local favourite Fabio Fognini 6-4 7-6 (7-5). The 2020 US Open winner and former world No.3 made 22 unforced errors and has now lost all five matches since returning in March from wrist surgery and not won since last year’s Italian Open.
“I’m really frustrated right now, obviously. Well, things have improved again since Madrid. That’s good,” Thiem said. “The forehand is still not there when things are getting tighter. That’s the way it is now, on to the next one.”
Shapovalov beat Italian Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-3 despite losing his cool.
Shapovalov was given a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct after hopping over the net to show the chair umpire a mark on his opponent’s side of the red clay court — which is not permitted.
The umpire determined that Shapovalov’s serve was out, resulting in a double fault and a break point for Sonego. With the code violation, Shapovalov lost the game to trail 5-3.
“A lot of things happened in the heat of the moment. I need to be better with my behaviour,” Shapovalov said. “It was my mistake. I’ll know the rule for next time. I definitely won’t step over the net.”
After the match, Shapovalov apologised to the umpire. He next faces Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, who beat Briton Dan Evans 7-6 (2), 6-2.
Other winners included Karan Khachanov, Jenson Brooksby and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
Meanwhile, defending champion Rafel Nadal, who starts against either American John Isner or Argentine qualifier Francisco Cerundolo, described his body as “like an old machine.”
He added: “To put this machine on again it takes some time. “It’s not the same when you (are) 19 than when you have almost 36, with all the issues that I went through in my tennis career.”