The 29-year-old Wawrinka captured his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, having previously finished runner-up in Rome 2008 (l. to Djokovic) and Madrid last year (l. to Nadal). With his semi-final victory over David Ferrer Saturday, the Swiss became the 11th active player to record 100 ATP Masters 1000 match wins.
"It's always special to play Roger," said Wawrinka. "We know it's always a strange match, especially being in the final here. He's my best friend on the tour. We respect each other so much. I'm just trying on the court to win the match. Before and after, we are still very good friends. During the match, we just try everything to win. Today I'm really happy to take that one.
"I can see that when mentally I'm there and I'm fighting, I can play tennis, I can beat all the player. I did an amazing job. I'm really happy after winning my first Grand Slam to win a Masters 1000 so quick. I didn't expect to. When I came here, for me it was more like a test. I knew I was playing good tennis, but I didn't expect to win because the draw was so strong."
"I did see I was playing good tennis," said Wawrinka. "It was few little changes to take the advantage. I started to play more aggressive, trying to push him more. When you win a match like this, it's only one or two points, especially in the tie-break. But I think I did a great tie-break. I was serving big and being really aggressive. Then I took the advantage at the beginning of the third set. I saw that he was a little bit tired. Me, I was playing better and better, especially moving better."
The No. 3 spot in the ATP Rankings was on the line as well, with Wawrinka avoiding relinquishing the career-high position he has held since winning the Australian Open in January.
Wawrinka is the 59th different winner of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, breaking up the domination of the ‘Big Four’. In 34 of the past 36 Masters 1000 tournaments, the trophy had been lifted by one of either Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Federer or Andy Murray. The only exceptions came at the BNP Paribas Masters in 2010 (Robin Soderling) and 2012 (Ferrer).
Despite the disappointment of losing to Stanislas Wawrinka, Roger Federer expressed his happiness for his countryman’s success.
"I'm very happy for Stan. It's a huge win for him after winning his first Grand Slam this year, to win his first Masters 1000 trophy," said Federer. "To take the opportunities when they're there, that's key in a tennis player's career."
"It was a great pleasure to share this moment with Stan. It was a tennis celebration on a beautiful court.
"I played with a lot of intensity during the past month," said Federer. "I'm happy that I can relax."
"I think it's one of the those finals that I could have won," said Federer. "But Stan was tougher at the end. I think he deserved it just a little bit more. Clearly it would have been nice to win that second set tie-break. I didn't necessarily play a bad one, but also at the same time I didn't quite ever get into the lead where things went my way.
"I would have loved to have won a second title this season because I've come close a few times. That's my next objective, that I get to the very end more frequently. But clearly I'm happy that the clay court season started so well for me."
"You must see the positive side. Try not to be disappointed or frustrated," Federer said. "What I see is that if I'm in that position again, if I keep trying as I did, at a certain point it's going to go my way."
Federer still owns a dominant 13-2 advantage in the pair’s Head to Head series. Wawrinka's first victory came in their first meeting at the Monte Carlo Country Club in 2009. The third seed had since dropped all eight sets contested on clay.
Federer, 21-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champion was seeking his first Monte Carlo title, having finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal thrice (2006-’08). He is 1-3 in finals this year, winning his 78th career title in Dubai and reaching finals in Brisbane, Indian Wells and Monte-Carlo.
The 32 year old next heads to ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Rome before playing Roland Garros, where Federer sees himself and Wawrinka challenging Nadal and Novak Djokovic for the championship.
"I think we're right there. We've put ourselves in winning positions time and time again," Federer said. "This was one of those weeks we were able to capitalise on it. Stan did the same at the Australian Open. I did it in Dubai. It's definitely a good start to the season for all four of us."
Here is how the final unfolded.
A packed Monte Carlo Country Club, including Prince Albert of Monaco, World No. 10 Milos Raonic and fashion icon Tommy Hilfiger, welcomed the Swiss duo to one of the grandest and most picturesque stages on the ATP World Tour.
Federer applied immediate pressure to Wawrinka’s serve, earning a break point in the opening game of the match behind a strong return performance. The third-seed would calm his nerves to hold.
Wawrinka began dictating with his backhand on Federer’s serve and would garner a break point of his own, while returning up 2-1. He opened the game with a brilliantly constructed point, capped by a perfectly placed drop volley to the open court, but was unable to snatch the early initiative with Federer staving off the lone break opportunity.
As Wawrinka’s first serve percentage began to dip, Federer refused to relent to his close friend, stepping inside the baseline and attacking his countryman’s serve with conviction. The former World No. 1 would capitalise, grabbing the break for a 3-2 advantage when Wawrinka sent a backhand long, an uncharacteristic sixth unforced error off his preferred wing. The Lausanne native was broken for the first time after 29 consecutive service games held this week.
After being pushed to deuce in the very next game, Federer would consolidate for 4-2 with a service winner fired out wide and a successful serve and volley venture. A 0/30 look would also be denied by the three-time Monte-Carlo finalist two games later.
Federer maintained the pressure from the baseline in the latter stages of the set, as he continued to dictate off both wings. He would capture the opening set 6-4 after 42 minutes when Wawrinka sent a backhand return long.
SECOND SET - Wawrinka 7-6(5)
Wawrinka would not be deterred by the disappointing first set, earning an immediate break for 2-0 off a loose Federer service game, in which the Basel native served at just 33 per cent.
On cue, Federer dug in his heels, breaking back to love after firing a sensational running backhand down the line, passing an equally aggressive Wawrinka at the net.
As the World No. 3’s backhand unforced error count crept into double digits, he was unable to convert on a pair of break point chances in the fourth game. Wawrinka struggled to inject significant pace on his signature backhand passing shots in the heavier conditions. Federer successfully employed his serve and volley tactic in crucial moments throughout the match and this game was no different, holding for 2-2.
The skies would open during the following changeover, with Wawrinka leading 3-2, with a brief delay ensuing. The rain shower eventually passed and so would yet another opportunity to break, as Federer rallied from 15/30 to hold behind his 13th net point won.
With the business end of the set nearing, the boisterous partisan Swiss crowd would not be disappointed by the level of play from both competitors and the drama that would ensue.
Both players remained on serve through the 12th game and a tie-break was needed to decide the set. Wawrinka garnered the early mini-break edge for 4-1 behind a barrage of deep shots off the ground and would maintain his composure to earn a trio of set points at 6-3. He would convert on his third, pounding an overhead smash to pull even.
The match turned in an instant. Wawrinka experienced a surge of energy in the third set, efficiently attacking Federer’s serve and breaking immediately for the early lead.
As Federer’s aggressiveness quotient began to dip, Wawrinka pressed for a second break, which he would secure with a remarkable angle-abusing cross-court backhand winner. The smooth, crisp ball striking that had abandoned him in the early stages would become a staple of his increasingly aggressive game, holding for a seemingly insurmountable 4-0 lead.
Federer would have no answer for his compatriot, struggling to make in-roads in Wawrinka’s serve before eventually falling behind 1-5.
Wawrinka would clinch his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 on his first match point after two hours and 13 minutes, firing five aces, 32 total winners and breaking Federer's serve three times.
Date: 20th April 2014, Source: ATP