(Writes through with quotes)
By Julien Pretot
PARIS, May 26 (Reuters) - Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka was preparing for a period of deep introspection after a shock French Open first-round defeat against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Monday.
The third-seeded Swiss, who has Samuel Beckett’s ‘Fail Better’ quote tattooed on his left arm, did not look for excuses as he became the tournament’s first major casualty, losing 6-4 5-7 6-2 6-0 to the world No.41 from Spain.
“I need to put the puzzle back together, but differently than in the past, because now - after winning a grand slam, being No.3 in the world - everything is different, and I still didn’t find all the pieces,” he told reporters.
“Everything has changed this year for me. On the positive side, of course, but it’s new challenges, new things that you have to manage, new solutions you need to find, and I want to do that.”
Wawrinka, tipped as a potential champion, is the first Australian Open champion to be defeated in the first round of the following French Open since Czech Petr Korda in 1998.
“I have to look at the future because I can’t change the result. It’s about what I want and the way I want it,” he said.
Victory over fellow Swiss and mentor Roger Federer in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters at the start of the claycourt season appeared to have underlined Wawrinka’s arrival at the very top of the game.
However, his year has been patchy and he arrived in Paris struggling for form.
“It’s been different since the beginning of the year. I had a difficult period after Miami, I’ve had ups and downs,” he said. “The pressure is different and my expectations are different. Everything goes so well in practice and then I am very demanding of myself during matches.”
“I could see myself playing bad but there are days like that and I need to accept that,” he added.
Wawrinka led 3-1 in the first set only to let it slip away and although he took the second the third and fourth sets were ones he will want to forget quickly.
“I think I was really close to completely changing the match but in the end I lost the last two sets 6-2 6-0,” said Wawrinka, who racked up 62 unforced errors.
“In the first set I should not have lost after leading 3-1. I was completely flat, I was not aggressive. Everything was terrible.”
Having just won his maiden grand slam title, Wawrinka was left to reflect on the level of consistency achieved by the top players in the game - starting with Federer who has a record 17 major titles to his name.
“I can appreciate what they do, how incredible this is. Sometimes you just don’t realise how tough what they achieve is,” he said. (Editing by Martyn Herman)