Murray’s poor run on clay-court Masters 1000 events had continued when he was knocked out of the Italian Open in the first round by Fabio Fognini. The Scot, though, had enjoyed success earlier this month at a second-tier tournament in Aix-en-Provence, where he won his first title since 2019.
Murray, who turned 36 on Monday, was seeded second and received a first-round bye, but found himself in a stacked bottom half in the Bordeaux draw which also included fellow three-time grand slam champion Wawrinka.
The veteran Swiss, who won the 2015 French Open, forced a break in the fourth game before holding to lead 4-1. Although Murray saved several set-points on his next serve, Wawrinka soon closed out the set. Murray’s serve faltered again at the start of the second set, with Wawrinka twice breaking to lead 3-0. Wawrinka, 38, maintained the pressure to break Murray again in the fifth game.
Although Murray forced a break point chance of his own in the next, he was then again frustrated by a line call as Wawrinka recovered to serve out for the match and complete what was a straightforward victory in one hour and 17 minutes.
Murray – who has only played at Roland Garros once since 2017 – is expected to soon decide whether to compete on clay in Paris, potentially for the last time, or begin his preparations early for the grass-court season as he looks towards Wimbledon.
Elsewhere, Holger Rune upset world number one Novak Djokovic to reach the semi-finals of the Italian Open. The 20-year-old Dane came through 6-2 4-6 6-2 against the defending champion in a rain-hit encounter in Rome.
Seventh seed Rune raced through the opening set in 39 minutes before Djokovic was seen to by the physio early in the second and given some medication before the weather forced play to be suspended. Top seed Djokovic – who beat Britain’s Cameron Norrie in a feisty fourth-round match – levelled the match soon after the resumption, but it was Rune who pulled clear in the decider.
Rune, making his tournament debut, opened a 4-0 lead after a double break before closing out the match for successive victories in his matches against the Serbian. “It’s really a big win for me,” Rune said in his on-court interview. Obviously I did it last year in Paris as well, but every match is a huge challenge for me when I play against Novak.
“He is one of the greatest that’s ever played the game. I knew I had to be at my best and I said it yesterday, and I was today. I am super proud of myself and I enjoyed every moment out there, but I stay humble of course. I have a lot to achieve.”
Djokovic will now turn his attention towards the French Open, which starts on May 28. “I know I can always play better,” he said, quoted on the ATP Tour website. “Definitely I am looking forward to working on various aspects of my game, of my body, hopefully getting myself in 100 per cent shape, that is the goal.
“I always like my chances in Grand Slams against anybody on any surface, best-of-five, so let’s see how it goes.”
Reflecting on his defeat to Rune, the world number one said: “He was just better. He played too good for me for most parts of the match. I did have a bad start of the third set. I think that’s where the match kind of shifted to his side. He kept his nerves and deserved to win.”