Swiss player Stan Wawrinka returned to the tennis court after an injury layoff. Unfortunately, his return was short-lived as he was beaten 6-4 6-4 in the first round of the Italian Open.
The three-time Grand Slam champion lost to 55th-ranked American Steve Johnson on the clay surfaces in Rome.
The 33-year-old missed the second half of the 2017 season after undergoing a knee surgery. The surgery was performed in the aftermath of his first-round exit at Wimbledon. The Swiss player has not competed professionally since February.
“I really only started to play tennis again 12 days ago,” said Wawrinka.
“It’s positive to see that the knee was doing okay, but now I need a lot of time to work on my fitness. Today was tough but I’m really happy to see where I am right now.
“I’m close to my top level, I still need a lot of time to play matches.”
The 33-year old had hit 30 unforced errors compared to Johnson’s 17.
He had earlier returned at the start of the 2018 season but retired during a second-round match in Marseille in February. At that time, he was up against world number 193 Ilya Ivashka of Belarus, since then, he has not competed in a single match.
“I think when I came back in Australia [in January] it was quite clear I wasn’t ready at all,” said Wawrinka, who spent eight weeks on crutches following the surgery.
“But for me it’s important to play matches to test myself playing against the top guys.
“I’m happy with physically where I am right now.
“I had a lot of hesitation with my game and it obviously makes a big difference in the way I move and the way I play.”
Despite the loss, he is still confident that he will make the French Open and continue improving from there.