Stan Wawrinka suffered more misery on grass despite the addition of new coach Richard Krajicek as the Swiss second seed crashed to a 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) first round defeat against Fernando Verdasco at Queen’s Club on Tuesday.
Despite being ranked fifth in the world and having won two Grand Slam titles, Wawrinka has never triumphed at a grass-court tournament.
His best effort in the Wimbledon warm-up event at Queen’s was a semi-final appearance in 2014 and he won’t be improving on that this year after a lacklustre exit to world number 53 Verdasco in front of Manchester United legend David Beckham.
By far Wawrinka’s lowest win percentage in the four Grand Slams is at the All England Club and he added 1996 Wimbledon champion Krajicek to his coaching team last week in a bid to find some answers.
But, with Dutchman Krajicek watching courtside, the early returns on their partnership weren’t promising as Verdasco avenged his Wimbledon defeat against Wawrinka last year to set up a second round meeting with Australia’s Bernard Tomic or South Africa’s Kevin Anderson.
Back in action for the first time since his reign as French Open champion was ended by Andy Murray in the semi-finals earlier this month, Wawrinka made an inauspicious beginning as he was broken in the first game.
Unable to keep his booming forehand under control, the 31-year-old looked more than a little rusty and Verdasco took advantage to break again for a 4-1 lead that effectively sealed the first set.
Wawrinka gradually began to find a modicum of momentum in the second set and the former Australian Open champion was leading 4-3 when rain forced a delay of over two hours.
But when they finally resumed, Wawrinka was unable to land the crucial break and Verdasco held serve to force a tie-break.
Wawrinka was teetering on the brink and Verdasco pushed him over the edge with ease, securing two mini-breaks as he swept to victory in resounding style.
Top seed Andy Murray was due to face France’s Nicolas Mahut later on Tuesday as the world number two starts his bid for a record fifth Queen’s crown.