Roger Federer was to try to win the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time and Stanislas Wawrinka his first Masters title anywhere when they met in an all-Swiss final yesterday.
Federer ousted defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-2 on Saturday, after Wawrinka had beaten sixth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain 6-1, 7-6 (7/3).
Yesterday’s match was to be the first all-Swiss final since Marc Rosset beat Federer in Marseille in 2000, and the first time that Federer and Wawrinka met in a championship decider.
“I think it’s incredible that we are in the finals together, the same week we’ve been playing so well,” Federer said. “I know Spaniards have it, French guys have it, Americans might have it. But for us it’s so rare. Last time was 14 years ago. I played so many matches in the meantime... You think it’s never going to happen again.”
The odds appeared stacked against Australian Open champion Wawrinka, who trails 13-1 overall against 17-time Grand Slam winner Federer. Wawrinka has lost his previous two Masters finals — at Madrid last year and Rome six years ago.
However, he would take heart from that his only win against Federer was here, in the third round, back in 2009 — although Federer had other things on his mind back then.
“I was basically on my honeymoon. I married on Saturday and I came over here and played him like on Thursday,” Federer said. “I know I have a good head-to-head [record] against him. I don’t read that much into it. He’s a different caliber player now.”
Federer looked in good touch against Djokovic, but conceded that the Serb — who had a right-wrist injury — was not at his best.
“I feel like I have put in the performance to be there, gave myself the opportunity this week. So I’m very happy with my play. Of course, I did see that Novak was struggling,” Federer said. “Now I set up the dream final for Stan and myself, and Swiss tennis and the Swiss fans. It’s very exciting times right now.”
Djokovic complained of soreness in his right wrist at the start of the week and took to the court with it heavily strapped. It seemed to affect him more toward the end of the first set, and he was serving way below his best throughout the second.
“It’s unfortunate that when you’re playing at this level against Roger, big tournament, that you are not able to play your game because something else is taking away all your energy and effort,” Djokovic said.
“I did everything I could really, I was on the medications every day, I was doing different therapies, injections,” he added.
The fourth-seeded Federer entered the tournament only after accepting a wild-card invitation, having missed the two previous editions. He lost three consecutive finals to eight-time champion Rafael Nadal from 2006 to 2008.
Djokovic missed two break-point chances when he had Federer 15-40 down in the 10th game, but Federer’s backhand got him out of trouble and he saved the next one with a smash at the net.
Federer was inconsistent in his quarter-final win against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but looked sharp against Djokovic, teasing him with one casual drop shot that surprised the Serb and drew loud cheers from the center-court crowd soaking up the Mediterranean sunshine.
Federer broke for 6-5 when Djokovic netted a weak forehand. At the changeover, Djokovic nursed his right wrist as he sat in his chair, looking stern-faced and pensive.