Alexander Bublik cut short Stan Wawrinka’s return to the tour, defeating the Swiss 6-3 5-7 2-6 in the first round of the Monte Carlo Masters in his first singles tennis match in 13 months.

Wawrinka started off confidently against the Kazakh, winning the first set with ease. He staved off three set points in the second to hold for 5-5 but appeared tired. In the decisive third, Bublik pulled ahead early and wrapped up the match in just over two hours.

Wawrnika, 37, 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.

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“I’m still far away from where I want to be, but I think I’m in the right direction,” Wawrinka said.

Despite “a tough loss” to No.35-ranked Bublik, the Swiss said it felt good to be on the court, packed with spectators, and playing competitively.

“It was much better than what I was expecting,” Wawrinka said.

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.

“I need a lot more … and I need to work hard on my tennis and my physical condition,” Wawrinka said.

Earlier, other winners included Australia’s Alex de Minaur, Sebastian Korda of the United States, Fabio Fognini of Italy, and Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain.