Saint Petersburg - Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka booked a place in the second round at the Saint Petersburg Open with a hard-fought straight-sets win over Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene on Monday.
The 33-year-old Wawrinka, who came to St Petersburg courtesy of a wildcard, prevailed 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) in one hour 46 minutes to chalk up his third win over Bedene in their fourth meeting.
"I'm really happy to be back here," Wawrinka said on court after the match. "Last time I was here two years ago when I lost in the final.
"Of course I'm happy with my first win here. I think it was a great level."
The Swiss star has been struggling to find his best form since returning to the ATP Tour after two operations on his left knee a year ago, and he was trailing 5-3 here after dropping his serve early in the first set.
But the former world No 3, who is now down at 88, picked up steam and broke back twice to take the opener in 46 minutes.
Wawrinka looked better in the second set but there were no big serves on the St Petersburg hard-court.
Wawrinka won his first Grand Slam title at the 2014 Australian Open and then added the 2015 French Open and 2016 US Open titles to his trophy cabinet.
In the match for a place in the last eight he will face fourth seeded Russian Karen Khachanov, who enjoyed an opening-round bye.
Earlier on Monday Martin Klizan of Slovakia, who won the title here six years ago, saw off Russia's Evgeny Donskoy 6-4, 6-4.
In the match for a place in the quarter-finals the Slovakian left-hander will face second seed Fabio Fognini of Italy in a replay of the 2012 Saint Petersburg's final.
"It's a great feeling as I came back to Saint Petersburg after a long break," Klizan said. "I have very pleasant memories after winning trophy here and I want to make it again.
"It will be a good match I hope," he said about the meeting with Fognini. "Fabio is a great player but I feel very comfortable in this arena and I hope I can win more matches here."