Stan Wawrinka took revenge on Alexander Bublik after two losses last season to the Kazakh, winning his ATP Rotterdam opener on Monday 7-6 (5), 6-4.
The Swiss who turns 38 next month lifted the Dutch trophy in 2015 and played the final at the Ahoy stadium three years ago against Gael Monfils.
Wawrinka set up two match points with a forehand winner down the line and advanced to the second round seconds later as Bublik hit the net with a return after 98 minutes.
“I’m super-happy to be back (after several years of knee injuries and multiple surgeries),” the winner said.
“Tonight was a great performance, it was a really tough match.
:My game is strong now, I’m playing and practising well. I think I can beat some really tough guys.”
Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam winner, advanced with 31 winners and 18 unforced errors; Bublik, who smashed three racquets in rapid succession last week during a loss, was plagued by 27 unforced errors.
No. 130 Wawrinka will face 36-year-old Richard Gasquet in the second round after the Frenchman defeated Pablo Carreno Busta 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2.
Gasquet and Wawrinka first played in 2006, with the French player winning three of their four matches – including last October in Antwerp.
I think i can beat some tough guys.