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Wawrinka says ready to challenge for title at Roland Garros

PARIS (Reuters) - Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka said he was ready to challenge for his second French Open title after a comfortable 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-1 win over German Dominik Koepfer to advance to the third round on Wednesday.

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The 2015 Roland Garros champion put his muscular build to good effect to hit 51 crunching winners despite the slow conditions on Court Suzanne Lenglen in his first career meeting against the 61st-ranked German.

The 16th seeded Swiss suffered his only service break in the third set, which he went on to lose, and broke his opponent’s serve five times during the match to complete the victory in 2 hours and 8 minutes.

“I’m happy so far with my start at the French Open,” Wawrinka told reporters.

“I’m ready for it. I’ve been practising right. I’m feeling good. I like the condition here. I enjoy being back playing Grand Slam. It’s great to be able and have the chance to play this year French Open.”

“Let’s see what will happen in the next two weeks,” he said.

The Swiss said he was “shocked” by the thunderous noise before the second game of his match but was alright once the umpire assure him it was caused by a French fighter jet breaking the sound barrier in Paris.

Wawrinka, who beat Novak Djokovic for his Paris title and finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2017, skipped this year’s U.S. Open due to the COVID-19 pandemic and instead chose to play challenger events on claycourts in Europe.

The Swiss gave a good account of his title chances by crushing multiple major winner Andy Murray 6-1 6-3 6-2 in his opening round and will next face French wild card Hugo Gaston, who earlier beat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4 7-6(4) 3-6 6-2.

“My conclusion is that I’m ready,” said Wawrinka, who spent most of the professional tour’s lengthy shutdown in Switzerland with his daughter.

“It can be long two weeks. It’s match after match. You need to stay into it.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Alison Williams

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