Stan Wawrinka produced a stunning performance of old to defeat world No 6 Grigor Dimitrov in four absorbing sets and reach the Wimbledon second round.
The three-time Grand Slam champion has tumbled down the rankings to world No 224 after struggling for form since his return from a long knee injury layoff but showed his class to cause an early surprise in the men’s draw.
Wawrinka managed only one victory on grass coming into the season’s third major but recovered from a disastrous start to earn an impressive 1-6 7-6 [7-3] 7-6 [7-5] 6-4 victory on Centre Court.
The Swiss player’s victory looked unlikely after he lost the first set in double quick time but the 33-year-old quickly grew in confidence and after both players traded breaks midway through the second it was Wawrinka who pinched the set on a tiebreak.
Dimitrov, who had won their last four meetings, appeared well placed to run away with the third at 4-1 but the Bulgarian saw his lead reduce before he was broken when serving for the set at 5-4.
A second tiebreak quickly followed and it was the former world No 3 who moved ahead in the match with a trademark backhand winner.
Both players continued to produce some entertaining exchanges from the baseline during the fourth but Wawrinka showed his greater experience on the sport’s biggest stage to secure another decisive break to seal victory.
He will next face Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano, who overcame Yuki Bhambri 2-6 6-3 6-3 6-2.
Gael Monfils proved too strong for compatriot Richard Gasquet in an all-French encounter in another standout men’s match on the opening day’s schedule.
The duo were meeting for a 17th time in their careers and it was Monfils who extended his head-to-head record to 10-7 with a 7-6 [8-6] 7-5 6-4 victory over on Court 2.
John Isner, ninth seed, fired 28 aces during a comfortable 6-2 7-6 [7-4] 7-5 victory against Yannick Maden while fellow big server and last year’s US Open finalist Kevin Anderson eased past Norbert Gombos 6-3 6-4 6-4.
Halle champion Borna Coric, seeded 16th, suffered an early exit to Daniil Medvedev as the Russian ran out a 7-6 [8-6] 6-2 6-2 winner.
French No 1 Lucas Pouille also progressed to the second round after overcoming a mid-match loss of concentration to beat Denis Kudla 6-3 6-3 2-6 6-3.
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