MONACO (AP) — Alexander Bublik cut short Stan Wawrinka's return to the tour, defeating the Swiss 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 in the first round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday in his first singles 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.
"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 for real points.
"It was much better than what I was expecting," Wawrinka said.