Wawrinka battles back to win first match in Dubai
Stan Wawrinka needed a set and a half to get comfortable on his return to the Dubai Tennis Championships on Tuesday but he pulled out a 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 first-round win over Sergiy Stakhovsky.
The double Grand Slam-winning Swiss last played the event eight years ago and looked to be ready for the first flight back out as he trailed by a set and a break to his Ukrainian opponent.
The meeting between the pair was the second in as many weeks after Wawrinka saved two match points before beating the world number 92 in Marseille.
The Swiss admitted he found it tough to adjust to fast night conditions, and had his troubles in the early stages. But he suddenly found enough form to win five games in a row, levelling at a set each with an ace.
Wawrinka earned victory in the third, breaking for 6-5 and finishing off a game later with his first match point after two hours and more than 50 unforced errors.
"It's good for confidence but it was a tough match first match, I wasn't playing well at all," Wawrinka said. "I was struggling with the conditions, with my game. The court is fast, the balls were flying.
"I was hesitating, always being behind. It's tough to play especially against him, who doesn't give you too much rhythm.
"It's a good win, a great win for me. Not playing well, still winning, still fighting, still finding a way, playing a little bit better at the end, trying to be the aggressive player on the court.
"It's good to have a chance to play better tomorrow."
Wawrinka now faces unknown Croatian qualifier Franko Skugor, who beat Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-2, 6-3.