Stan Wawrinka conceded that he was “not good enough” and a bit “slow” in his Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships first round defeat to Damir Dzumhur on Tuesday that saw the Swiss’ title defence come to a crashing halt at the opening hurdle.
The second-seeded Wawrinka is the first Dubai defending champion to stumble out of the first round since Roger Federer lost his opener to Andy Murray in 2008.
The world No3 had been out of action for a month nursing a right knee problem he picked up during the Australian Open, which forced him to withdraw from Rotterdam two weeks ago.
In his first match back, Wawrinka was stunned 7-6 (4), 6-3 by the 77th-ranked Dzumhur, who claimed the third top-10 victory of his career to book a second round against Spaniard Marcel Granollers.
“He was playing good today,” said Wawrinka of the 24-year-old Bosnian.
“(I was) Not good enough. I think I started well, but it was a tough match a little bit between missing something to push a little bit more to be a little bit more active. I think after coming back one month out, I had to recover from the injury.
“In practice it start to be okay the last few days, but today I was missing a little bit something.”
Wawrinka was up 3-0 in the first set before he allowed Dzumhur back into the contest and never recovered.
“Physically I was a little bit slow sometimes, so I couldn’t hit that hard from the baseline to push him back. I think I was a little bit too early in defence,” added Wawrinka.
Dzumhur was making his Dubai debut and playing just his third main draw at an ATP 500 event.
His best tour result so far has been reaching the fourth round at the ATP Masters 1000 in Miami last year.
“Three games in, like, six, seven minutes. He was playing outstanding there,” Dzumhur said of Wawrinka’s strong start.
“Was just hitting every ball. I couldn’t even touch the ball. I didn’t have a chance to do something.
“So I knew that it’s not too much about my game. It’s about his day. If he’s going to play like that, he’s gonna win, I cannot do anything.
“But I was hoping that he’s gonna go down with his level of game, and that’s what happened. I was, after winning the first game, I started to fight, to grind, and I found some way to play, to stay in the game. Playing longer points was giving me more chances.”
Wawrinka is unsure about his next step but admits he has a lot of work to do ahead of the ATP Masters 1000 double-header in the United States of Indian Wells and Miami.
“I need to focus on myself. I need to practice more, to get in better level, to expect to do some good results,” said Wawrinka.
“I’m quite unhappy to lose first round. It’s tough, because I played well last year here. I was happy to be back. I was happy to be back on the ATP Tour after a month.
“I was excited and I wanted to do better this week. But the result is not there, but I think in general it’s positive for my tennis.”