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Stan Wawrinka wins in return to Indian Wells after 4 years away

BNP Paribas Open - Day 4

INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 09: Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland returns a shot to Alexsandar Vukic of Australia during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 09, 2023 in Indian Wells, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka made a successful return to the BNP Paribas Open after four years away, beating qualifier Aleksandar Vukic 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.

Wawrinka, a 37-year-old who has been ranked as high as No. 3 and is now No. 100 after a series of operations to his left foot and left knee, hit 10 aces and won 28 of 33 first-serve points. His previous match at the hard-court tournament in the California desert was a loss to Swiss Davis Cup teammate Roger Federer in the third round in 2019.

Wawrinka, the runner-up to Federer at Indian Wells in 2017, will face No. 26 seed Miomir Kecmanovic in the second round at the first Masters 1000 tournament of the season.

Two other owners of major titles who have dealt with injury issues in recent years, Andy Murray and Dominic Thiem, were scheduled for first-round action later on Day 2.

Emma Raducanu, who won the 2021 U.S. Open as a teenage qualifier, was back on court Thursday for the first time since January after having tonsilitis, and fell behind 2-0 in each set during what would become a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Danka Kovinic.

Another 20-year-old, Ben Shelton, trailed 2-0 at the outset against Fabio Fognini before taking 12 of the last 15 games to win 6-4, 6-1. Shelton, the 2022 NCAA singles champion at the University of Florida who hadn’t won a match since reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals, will take on No. 4 seed and defending champion Taylor Fitz next.

Fognini was warned for an audible obscenity and for taking too much time getting ready to return serves; he also spiked a racket during the match but wasn’t cited by the chair umpire for that.

Thanasi Kokkinakis claimed 32 of 34 points he served in a 6-4, 6-1 victory over wild-card entry Brandon Holt to earn a matchup on Saturday against reigning U.S. Open champion and No. 1 seed Carlos Alcaraz.

Danielle Collins, the 2022 Australian Open runner-up, lost a second consecutive match against an opponent ranked outside the top 50, knocked out 6-4, 6-4 by 80th-ranked Dalma Galfi. Galif had lost in qualifying but moved into the main draw when someone withdrew. Collins delivered only nine winners while making 41 unforced errors.

Varvara Gracheva, who qualified for Indian Wells after reaching the final at Austin, Texas, last week, defeated Ysaline Bonaventure 6-2, 6-2; Katerina Siniakova beat Jule Niemeier 7-5, 6-4; and Jil Teichmann was a 6-1, 6-4 winner over Ashlyn Krueger.

In other results, Jack Draper overwhelmed qualifier Leandro Riedi 6-1, 6-1 to set up an all-British matchup against No. 24 Dan Evans; and Mackenzie McDonald defeated Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 6-0.