Stanislas Wawrinka, fresh from an adrenaline-stoking parachute jump at the weekend, is aiming to win the Swiss Open in Gstaad for the first time at his 10th attempt amid the hype surrounding Roger Federer’s surprise entry.
Wawrinka, ranked 10th in the world and who joined his celebrated countryman in an early Wimbledon exit, said on Monday the excitement of having Federer back after a nine-year absence could only help the clay-court tournament in one of Europe’s most elite Alpine villages.
“It’s all good for Swiss tennis,” the 2005 finalist said.
So great was the extra demand for tickets that 800 seats had to be added to the grandstand on the main court laid over the communal ice rink in the center of a village, whose part-time residents include Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, French rocker Johnny Hallyday and film director Roman Polanski.
Federer, Wawrinka, third seed Janko Tipsarevia and fourth seed Juan Monaco all received byes into the second round, with Wawrinka due to face the winner of the match between France’s Kenny de Schepper and Spain’s Daniel Gimono-Travers.
The Swiss leaped in tandem with an instructor from 5,000m in a 50-second parachute experience over the Alps.
“You could not dream of a better landscape. I was a bit nervous flying up, but I did enjoy the moment,” Wawrinka said. “It was a great experience. Of course, you get very nervous just before jumping off the plane, but once you are in the air it’s a great feeling.”
In opening-day play, Federer’s conqueror at Wimbledon, Sergiy Stakhovsky, was the first of the week to fall, going out to Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.
The result leaves the Ukrainian with four straight defeats since stunning Federer at the All England Lawn Tennis Club on June 28.
Fifth seed Feliciano Lopez fought past feisty Czech qualifier Jan Hernych 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, with sixth seed Mikhail Youzhny defeating Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
Spain’s Marcel Granollers knocked out seventh seed Lukasz Rosol 6-2, 6-4.
Wawrinka, champion this season in Lisbon on clay, is concentrating on his chances of breaking his title duck in Switzerland.
“I’m hoping to finally win here, it will be the 10th time.” he said. “It’s always great to play at home, but the clay at altitude [800m] is totally different. The ball always flies here and it’s tough to get a rhythm. You can’t compare this to many other events.”
Wawrinka lost in his opening Gstaad match a year ago to France’s Mathieu. He is determined not to repeat that scenario.
“I’m having a good season, I want to become a regular part of the top 10,” Wawrinka said.
Federer’s opening second-round match has already been scheduled, with the Swiss drawcard taking to the court tomorrow against either German Daniel Brands or long-time friend Marco Chiudinelli.
AP, UMAG, Croatia
Leonardo Mayer of Argentina and Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands won in straight sets in the first round of the Croatia Open on Monday.
Mayer beat Albert Ramos of Spain 6-1, 6-3 in just over an hour. The Argentine later said conditions were tough because of the summer heat.
De Bakker defeated Dmitry Tursunov of Russia 6-3, 6-3.