PARIS -- When Stan Wawrinka won his first ATP Masters 1000 event five weeks ago in Monte Carlo, a shocking possibility suddenly loomed:
The man, who coming into the 2014 season at the age of 28 had never won a Grand Slam singles title, seemed quite capable of bagging the first two majors of the year. After winning the Australian Open, beating Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal along the way, Wawrinka was viewed by many as the consensus No. 3 favorite behind the only two men ranked above him.
Well, it took only two days and one round to end that nice little theory. Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, about a week from his 30th birthday, authored a massive upset in the twilight at Roland Garros, bludgeoning Wawrinka 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0.
Wawrinka held only a 3-2 head-to-head over Garcia-Lopez on clay, but the Spaniard is more than even now.
"I think it's just a different story," Wawrinka said. "Now it's a different picture for my career. I need to put the puzzle back together, but differently than in the past, because now it's, after winning Grand Slam, Masters 1000, being No. 3 in the world, everything is different, and I still didn't find all the pieces."
Garcia-Lopez, who is ranked No. 41 among ATP players, converted eight of 12 break point opportunities while Wawrinka was a mere 3-for-7. The Spaniard crafted 37 winners, but no fewer than 62 unforced errors from Wawrinka were the difference.
Wawrinka lost his first match in Madrid to 20-year-old Dominic Thiem, but few thought it would happen again in Paris. Thus, Jim Courier's achievement will remain a standard of recent history. Wawrinka will not be the first man in 22 years to start the season with titles at the Australian Open and French Open. Instead, he is the first Australian Open champion to lose in the first round of the subsequent Roland Garros since Petr Korda in 1998.
Going OT ... and then some
As the shadows began to cross Allee M. Bernard outside Court Suzanne Lenglen, a crowd of hundreds jammed in front of the big screen over the entrance of the stadium. At the other end of the cobblestone-paved road, Frenchman Julien Benneteau and the marvelously named Facundo Bagnis of Argentina were locked in an epic struggle on Court 1.
The first four sets went by relatively swiftly, in 123 minutes, with the players splitting one-sided frames.
Then came the fifth and furious set.
Both players showed tremendous heart, serving with no evident nerves. In the end, Bagnis prevailed 18-16 in the fifth when he managed to land one final backhand volley. He collapsed on his back into the red dirt as if he had won the whole thing.
The final score: 6-1, 6-2, 1-6, 3-6, 18-16. The entire thing required 4 hours, 21 minutes, and the ultimate set alone ran a total of 144 minutes. It equaled the record for most games in a fifth set at the French Open; John Isner and another French player, Paul-Henri Mathieu, did it two years ago with Mathieu escaping into the third round.
Incredibly, it was Bagnis' first main-draw match in a Grand Slam. Previously, he was 0-for-9 in major qualifying attempts before winning three matches here.