As can be expected of a three-time Grand Slam winner, Stan Wawrinka was disappointed with his first-round loss to Corentin Moutet at Roland Garros on Monday afternoon. But the 37-year-old was not too downbeat about his performance in just his third tour-level tournament after being out for more than a year with a foot injury.
“Obviously it's a great disappointment to lose in a Grand Slam, but it's the reality of my life now,” said the 2015 Roland Garros champion at his post-match press conference. “I knew before the match that I needed to work a lot physically, to work my tennis. It's not [that] I'm playing badly or I'm not good, but I'm not yet feeling good for matches like that.
“This is the mirror of where I am now. You have to go through times like this with bad matches, with bad first rounds in a Grand Slam, because I need to play a few matches to renew the feelings you look for in a match.”
The Swiss came out strongly on Court Suzanne Lenglen, but faded after the first set against Moutet, who ran out a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-3 winner. Wawrinka acknowledged he had been unable to sustain his level against the World No. 139, but credited the French wild card with raising his game to turn around the match.
“I played well in the first set, but he wasn't into the match yet,” said Wawrinka. “The beginning of the second set he got into it a bit better. I started hesitating and you know things swing very fast, especially when you're looking for confidence in yourself, in your game. As soon as you are heading in the wrong direction, the head goes very fast.
“Moutet fought very well, he played his game. His game is difficult to play because he has a lot of talent, he's left-handed, he mixes his shots a lot. It's beautiful to see for the fans, but it's very complicated to return. He played his game today and he did well.”
The 16-time tour-level titlist Wawrinka delivered a reminder of his abilities at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome two weeks ago, defeating Reilly Opelka and Laslo Djere at the ATP Masters 1000 event for his first victories in 14 months. Despite those promising results, he feels further physical improvements are required to reach the next level.
“[When] I renewed with training and at the end of February and beginning of March, I knew it would take time to get back into the competition and to renew the level where I feel good,” said Wawrinka. “[Where] I get on court and I'm okay, I'm fit and I'm ready to play a good match.
“I am okay, but I'm not as fit as I would like to be. As far as tennis is concerned, I'm not back to the level I wanted, I have to take weeks of physical preparation and do some training matches. I'm getting close. A few weeks and I should be there.”
Wawrinka accepts that the whole process can take time, and the Swiss is prepared to put in the hard yards to get there.
“At my age when you're out of the Tour for over a year, you take time to get back to the level you want,” he said. “I know what I want.
“I'm convinced that I can [come back] with a very good level because I have many clues that show that I can do it. It will take months, but I'm not afraid. It's not a problem for me to train hard.”