Wimbledon: Wawrinka means business when it opens with easy victory
LONDON: Stan Wawrinka it was hardly mentioned in the Wimbledon Develop with all the focus on the three big men and young guns hoping to shake things up, but the Swiss means business.
Out of eight times champion Roger Federer , two times winner Rafael Nadal and defending champion Novak Djokovic , Wawrinka is the only other multiple Grand Slam champion in the draw.
With the weapons at his disposal, a robust service, a sublime setback and a great rival mentality, Wawrinka should at least part of the conversation when it comes to talking about contenders to make a deep run this fortnight.
The 34-year-old needs a Wimbledon title to complete his career Grand Slam and while, for whatever reason, he has never thrived on the All England Club lawns, he looked razor sharp as he began his 15th successive appearance.
On a sunny court against Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelmans, he won 26 victories in a 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory that lasted less than an hour and a half.
It's true that the southpaw Bemelmans, who was ranked 171, was having a decidedly ordinary day with his fake forehand completely, but it was a powerful statement from Wawrinka, nonetheless.
A year ago Wawrinka arrived at Wimbledon ranked outside the top 200 having had knee surgery after the 2017 Championships.
On that occasion he beat Grigor Dimitrov in the first round, but then lost to qualifier Tomas Fabbiano.
Surprisingly for a player of his class Wawrinka has only reached two quarter-finals at Wimbledon, in 2014 when he lost to Roger Federer and in 2015 when beaten by Richard Gasquet .
It is his worst Grand Slam, with his victory over Bemelmans improving his career record there to 20-14, compared to 42-14 at Roland Garros, 40-12 at the US Open and 38-13 at Australia.
He has not been in the third round since 2015 and, to finish that sequence, he will have a severe test next against the American giant. Reilly Opelka .