Stanislas Wawrinka showed that his first Grand Slam title was not a fluke, upstaging his more illustrious countryman to add a maiden Masters trophy in Monte Carlo on Sunday.
Wawrinka came from a set down to beat Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 in the Monte Carlo Masters final, another milestone in the late-blooming 29-year-old’s career.
Having beaten Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to his Australian Open victory this year, Wawrinka showed again that he can compete with the best by earning just his second career victory against Federer in the first all-Swiss ATP final in 14 years.
Wawrinka, whose ranking has climbed to third, has won all three finals he has played this year.
“It already changed last year when I started to first make my first quarter in French Open, final in Madrid, my first semi-final in the US Open,” he said.
“I started to realize I am able to beat all the players. That’s what I am doing this year and I’m doing well,” he said.
Djokovic, hampered by a sore right wrist, lost to Federer in the semifinals, while eight-time champion Nadal was beaten by David Ferrer in the quarters.
That opened the way for Wawrinka, but he still had to get past 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer, who held a mighty 13-1 advantage over him before the final.
“When I came here, for me it was more like a test,” Wawrinka said. “I knew I was playing good tennis.”
The fourth-seeded Federer, who accepted a wild card invitation to play in the tournament, was also looking to win the Monte Carlo tournament for the first time after losing his three previous finals here to Nadal from 2006 to 2008.
Wawrinka’s only other win against Federer also came here, in the third round in 2009. The two won the 2008 Olympic doubles title together and are close friends.
It was the first time that Federer and Wawrinka met in a championship decider. In the last all-Swiss final, Marc Rosset beat Federer in Marseille in 2000.
“I think he deserved it just a little bit more,” Federer said. “It’s a huge win for him after winning his first Grand Slam this year, also to win his first Masters.”
With the third-seeded Wawrinka serving for the match, Federer shouted in frustration as he missed an easy forehand on second serve at 15-15. On the next point, Federer’s backhand went wide and Wawrinka clinched the victory with a crisp forehand winner on the line.
The result will not affect their friendship.
“This is pretty rare in sport, in a very selfish and very individual sport,” Wawrinka said. “We are there to try to win, but we have a lot of respect for each other. We don’t overdo it. Before the match we had lunch together. After the match, we were laughing together in the locker rooms.”
It is Wawrinka’s seventh career title. He had lost his previous Masters finals at Madrid last year and Rome in 2008.
Federer broke for a 3-2 lead when Wawrinka’s backhand long, and served out the first set when his countryman over-hit another backhand.
Wawrinka secured a break to take a 2-0 lead in the second, but Federer broke straight back with a brilliant passing shot down the line.
Federer lost his way in the tiebreaker. He saved two set points at 6-3, but Wawrinka leveled matters with a clinical smash after Federer returned his serve too high.
Federer was seeking his 22nd Masters trophy. The 32-year-old Swiss has lost finals against Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells and to Lleyton Hewitt at Brisbane.