Wawrinka, a three-times grand slam champion, gradually found the range on his lethal forehand, however, and he has never lost in the Australian Open first round in 12 visits to Melbourne Park.
Wawrinka, who was the 2014 champion in Melbourne and won the US Open previous year, lost the first set 6-4 against Klizan, ranked 34th in the world.
U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka has scraped into the second round of the Australian Open after beating 35th-ranked Martin Klizan of Slovakia 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
"It wasn't my best tennis. but I was fighting a lot".
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And Wawrinka was broken to make it 4-3 in the final set, setting up what could have been the biggest shock on day on in Melbourne.
There were 32 break-point chances in the match, with Wawrinka converting six chances to Klizan's five.
Wawrinka crossed the net to check on the well-being of his opponent and said in his news conference: "That was, for sure, a tough shot for him". But I think it was okay at the end.
"I'm sorry I touch him in the wrong place".