NEW YORK (Reuters) - Swiss wildcard Stan Wawrinka conjured up some of his old U.S. Open magic on Monday, sweeping past eighth-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 6-2 7-5 to kick off action at Arthur Ashe Stadium with an upset.
After winning the U.S. Open in 2016 Wawrinka was unable to defend his title last year following two surgeries on his left knee. But the Swiss, 101st in the world rankings, looked right at home on a steamy Monday as he opened his account with a ruthless performance against one of the title contenders.
“The first time I came here last week, one week ago for practice, seeing, looking around a little bit,” said Wawrinka.
“Two years ago was something very special, of course, amazing memories after the final.
“So it was great to come back, that’s for sure.”
It marked the second consecutive Grand Slam that Wawrinka had drawn Dimitrov, the 33-year-old Swiss rallying from a set down in an opening round meeting at Wimbledon to snap a four-match losing run to the Bulgarian.
The last time Wawrinka had appeared on Arthur Ashe he battled his way to a four-set victory over then world number one Novak Djokovic to capture his third career Grand Slam title.
There was no such drama against Dimitrov as Wawrinka was in control from the start, his opponent managing only a single break from eight chances.
“I’m improving day by day,” Wawrinka said. “I’m improving tournament after tournament, match after match.
“And I can see that the last tournaments, it went really high, from struggling in the match, to competing at really high level. So I’m really happy with that.
“So I’m also aware that I can have some trouble, still some up-and-downs and things like that.
“I don’t put too much pressure on myself.”
Reporting by Steve Keating, Editing by Ed Osmond