Federer sets all-swiss final
Roger Federer will face Stanislas Wawrinka in an all-Swiss final at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters after beating defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-2 on Saturday in the semi-finals.
Federer has a 13-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head lead over Wawrinka and has won his past 11 meetings with the Australian Open champion. But Wawrinka’s only win over his countryman came here at the Monte-Carlo Country Club in 2009.
“For me it comes as a bit of a surprise to be in the finals again of a tournament this year, especially the first one on clay. But, of course, I’ll take it,” said Federer. “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. Now I set up the dream finals for Stan and myself and Swiss tennis and the Swiss fans. It’s very exciting times right now.
“I think it’s incredible that we are in the finals together, the same week we’ve been playing well for some time now. That we’re able to have this moment together on a centre court, it’s so rare.
“This one is clearly very special, especially with the way he’s been playing the past few months, the number of hours we spent together on court either playing doubles or practising, the times we’ve talked tennis. It’s nice living a moment like this together in a final. It’s really wonderful. So from that standpoint, I think it’s going to be a great day tomorrow.”
The 32-year-old Federer ended Djokovic’s reign in Monte-Carlo with victory in 75 minutes. Djokovic had dethroned eight-time champion Rafael Nadal in the 2013 final and saw his 13-match winning run come to an end. The Serb, who completed the Indian Wells-Miami double last month, had been chasing an unprecedented fifth successive ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy.
Federer extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head lead over Djokovic to 18-16, beating the Serb for the second time in three meetings this season. After missing the chance to break Djokovic at 4-4 in the first set, Federer found himself in trouble as he faced two set points at 15/40 on serve in the 10th game. The Basel native held on, though, and then clawed his way back from 40/0 down on Djokovic’s serve in the following game to break the Serb and steal the set.
With Djokovic hampered by an injured right wrist, which was heavily strapped, Federer took full advantage and broke the Serb twice to prevail. He lost just five points on serve in the second set.
“Of course, I did see that Novak was struggling at one point,” said Federer. “For me it was more just making sure that from my side I was playing a good, solid, tough match with some good defensive play sometimes, but mostly trying to stay on the offensive as much as I could. I think I was able to deliver from my side, which is key.”
Federer is looking to win the Monte-Carlo crown for the first time after three runner-up finishes from 2006-’08. The right-hander is chasing his 22nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title – he is currently second on the all-time leaders list, behind Nadal with 26 – and his first since August 2012, when he triumphed in Cincinnati (d. Djokovic).
Federer became the third player in the Open Era to reach 950 tour-level wins on Friday when he rallied from the brink of defeat to prevail against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals. Victory over Wawrinka on Sunday would bring him his 79th tour-level title – third on all-time leaders list – and his second of the season, following success in Dubai (d. Berdych).