Stanislas Wawrinka once again battled to a win over compatriot Roger Federer in the Monte Carlo open to cement his number-three position in the world rankings and indicate that he could well be a force to be reckoned with in the 2014 clay season.
After losing the first set 4-6, Wawrinka came through a relatively straightforward tiebreak to level the scores before controlling the rest of the game with a comfortable 6-2 victory in the third set. Whilst this result may have been a surprise a few years ago, the reality is that clay has never been Federer’s strongest surface, and at 32 the wily old Swiss is not able to dominate in the way his fans have been accustomed to seeing.
There will be no animosity between the Swiss number one and two though, with Federer and Wawrinka still firm friends. In fact, the event at Monte Carlo showcased a particular peculiarity in tennis circles: two final opponents practising together on the morning of the final. Federer has won all there is to win, and one gets the sense that he is just enjoying the ride and is thankful that he’s still able to reach prestigious finals like this one.
In fact, there’s a good chance that Federer could miss out on the biggest event of the clay court season, hinting that he may well skip the French Open in order to be with his wife when she goes into labour.
Djokovic ‘out for some time’
Federer’s route to the final involved an easy win against injury-troubled world number two Novak Djokovic in the semifinal on Saturday.
Djokovic’s wrist was bothering him all week and it showed against Federer, as he lost limply in straight sets. The Serb admitted that the injury will mean he is unlikely to be able to play tennis for some time, but denied he needed surgery, and it is thought that he will look to rest his wrist as much as possible in a bid to be fit for the French Open, which begins on 25 May.
The injury comes at a most inopportune moment for the Serb, given the way that he has started 2014. Having won the previous four Masters titles, Djokovic was the form player on tour and has been seen as the only player who can topple Nadal at this year’s Roland Garros.
Lacklustre Nadal dumped out in the quarterfinals
What is perhaps most surprising about the past week at Monte Carlo is that the trophy was not etched with the name ‘Rafael Nadal’ as it has been on eight previous occasions.
The Spaniard was beaten in straight sets by compatriot David Ferrer in the quarterfinals, raising serious question marks around whether the ‘King of Clay’ will be able to be the same force he has been for so many years on the surface. The Spaniard admitted his frustrations, saying that he “isn’t playing well” at the moment, and he will be desperately hoping that he can bounce back and regain some form before the French Open.
Next up, Madrid
The next two Masters events will take place in Madrid on May 4 and Rome on May 11, before the buildup to the French begins in earnest. Djokovic will be looking to get back fighting fit by then, Nadal will be desperately trying to figure out what has gone wrong, Federer may or may not be playing Roland Garros, whilst Andy Murray should have a new coach by then. The soap opera of the ATP tour never stops.
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