The positive vibes and big-deal victories began for Stan Wawrinka at last year's U.S. Open, back when he still went by “Stanislas,” and picked up steam at this year's Australian Open, where he earned the right to forever be called “major champion.”
And yet all of that seemed so far away late Monday at the French Open as dusk approached — and defeat became apparent — in Wawrinka's first Grand Slam match since winning his first major title.
Surprisingly, Wawrinka looked listless. More stunningly, he looked very little like a guy who was seeded No. 3 behind Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic and had proclaimed himself “one of the favorites” just a few days earlier. In by far the biggest development of the tournament's first two days, Wawrinka bowed out in the first round at Roland Garros with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 loss to 41st-ranked Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.
“The match wasn't good at all,” said Wawrinka, whose trademark one-handed backhanded was off-target throughout. “I don't have an answer why I didn't play that good.
“I was trying to find my game, trying . . . to be aggressive, trying to find anything. And I didn't. “I was completely flat.”
He is the first Australian Open champ to exit in the first round of that year's French Open since Petr Korda in 1998.
Garcia-Lopez has never been past the third round at a Grand Slam tournament.
On a day that started with gloomy weather, Djokovic and Maria Sharapova successfully dealt with the rain and their opponents.
Both former No. 1 players advanced to the second round at Roland Garros, playing through rain and delays, while Nadal finished off his match in the sunshine.
Djokovic beat Joao Sousa of Portugal, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, despite being broken three times, including while serving for the match for the first time.
The second-seeded Serb was leading 4-1 when rain halted play on Court Philippe Chatrier. It restarted about an hour later.
“Very heavy conditions. The court is not that great, in a great condition, at this moment,” Djokovic said. “But of course, considering the amount of rain that we had in the last four or five days, it is not easy for people to maintain the court in the right state. They are doing their best.”
In the second set, a short shower stopped play for only a few minutes. Djokovic, wearing a white rain jacket, used the time to entertain the crowd by chatting with a ball boy and letting the youngster sit alongside him on the bench.
At one point, Djokovic grabbed the umbrella out of the ball boy's hand and in return gave him a racket. Then Djokovic handed him a bottle of Perrier, and the two clinked bottles before taking a sip.
“We had a nice chat. He's a tennis player, so I asked him how long he's playing, and how he's enjoying his time as a ball kid,” Djokovic said. “It was a nice, fun time, something unusual for the Grand Slams.”
The forecast calls for more rain for the rest of the week.
Djokovic can complete a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open.
The top-ranked Nadal has already won a record eight French Open titles, but is looking to become the first man to win five times in a row in Paris.
On Monday, he improved his record at Roland Garros to 60-1 by beating Robby Ginepri of the United States, 6-0, 6-3, 6-0.
Sharapova, the 2012 champion, was first on court in the main stadium and needed little more than an hour to beat Ksenia Pervak, 6-1, 6-2.
“It's always nice to get out there on a day like this. It's good to play the first match, as you know,” Sharapova said. “Hopefully you'll be able to finish the match today with the weather conditions being as they are. It's always nice to get through.”
Sharapova, seeded seventh, broke Pervak five times and finished with 17 winners, while Pervak had only four.
Sharapova, 27, completed a career Grand Slam at Roland Garros two years ago. She lost to Serena Williams in the 2013 final.
Up next in Paris will be Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria in the second round. But she could face Williams in the quarterfinals.
“It's tough to think about that match down the line where you have to compete in three matches before that,” Sharapova said. “Obviously, it's a match that many people always look forward to when we play against each other.”
Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia also advanced, beating Virginie Razzano of France, 7-5, 6-0.
Other winners include No. 12 Flavia Pennetta, No. 16 Sabine Lisicki, No. 17 Roberta Vinci, No. 18 Eugenie Bouchard, No. 19 Samantha Stosur, No. 20 Alize Cornet and No. 32 Elena Vesnina.
On the men's side, ninth-seeded Kei Nishikori was knocked out in the first round, losing to Martin Klizan of Slovakia, 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-2. No. 17 Tommy Robredo, No. 25 Marin Cilic, No. 26 Feliciano Lopez, No. 27 Roberto Bautista Agut and No. 29 Gilles Simon advanced, while No. 30 Vasek Pospisil lost.