Federer Begins Clay Season Against Kohlschreiber in Monte Carlo; Raonic v. Gulbis Undercard
by Sean Randall | April 11th, 2011, 11:53 pm

Roger Federer is sounding more like a guy ranked No. 1 in the world than someone has hasn’t won a title in his last four tournaments. Speaking to the press this past weekend at the Monte Carlo Masters, Federer was full of confidence and belief, suggesting that he’s feeling as good as he’s felt heading into a clay season as he has in a long time.

Right or wrong, we’ll find out very soon what’s in store for Roger this spring. The Swiss begins the clay portion of the season Tuesday against a the tricky Phil Kohlschreiber. Federer has never lost to the fellow one-hander in five matches but this will be their first meeting on clay. And Kohlschreiber, who’s has had some big wins in his career, just came off a three-set win Sunday over Andrey Golubev.

Another match on center court worthy of attention – and there are many – is Milos Raonic v. Ernests Gulbis. Raonic did well beating Michael Llodra Sunday to collect his first career red clay win. Now he’ll face the big-hitting mystery named Gulbis. When Gulbis is on, he’s tough. When he’s not, he’s usually out. I think Tuesday the good Gulbis shows up and gives Raonic all he can handle. It should be a good match.

“Firstly, it’s going to be that I hit shots that I expect to be finishing the point on, and there’s always one ball more coming back,” Raonic said Sunday about the difference of playing on clay. “Sometimes it ends up being 10 balls in one point more coming back. That’s the biggest thing. I think another big thing is sort of changing the mental adaptation to it, being ready for these kind of situations, these kind of long points where everything does come back. It’s a learning process. But I’m ready to use it to progress as much as possible.”

Also, Gilles Simon is on first in a great matchup against Tomaz Bellucci. Touted as one of the next big stars – I recall Johnny McEnroe dubbed him a future Top 10 player – Bellucci really hasn’t been a factor at the highest levels of tennis. Might this clay season be the breakthrough to the Brazilian?

JW Tsonga, who had a great win Monday over Juan Monaco, will have the joint jumping against Ivan Ljubicic.

On the outer courts, Tomas Berdych plays the diminutive Oli Rochus and Janko Tipsarevic meets Feliciano Lopez.

Some other results from today worth a mention include Marcos Baghdatis’s loss to Radek Stepanek. Baghdatis has now lost six straight matches. Meanwhile, Stepanek, who saved two matchpoints in the effort, moves on to play another guy stuck in a funk, Andy Murray, on Wednesday.

Robin Haase, a kid I really like if he can stay healthy, picked up one of his best clay wins beating former French Open semifinalist Nikolay Davydenko 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. Davydenko’s play is really starting drop off considerably.

Two darkhorse candidates Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Almagro were also winners. If the draw works out they’ll eventually run into Nadal and Federer, respectively.

Matches are being televised on the Tennis Channel all week. Streaming is also available on the ATP site.


COURT CENTRAL start 10:30 am
T Bellucci (BRA) vs [16] G Simon (FRA)
Not Before 11:30 AM
P Kohlschreiber (GER) vs [2] R Federer (SUI)
Not Before 1:30 PM
[12] J Tsonga (FRA) vs I Ljubicic (CRO)
E Gulbis (LAT) vs M Raonic (CAN)

COURT DES PRINCES start 10:30 am
J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs F Lopez (ESP)
K Anderson (RSA) vs F Fognini (ITA)
A Montanes (ESP) vs X Malisse (BEL)
[Q] O Rochus (BEL) vs [5] [WC] T Berdych (CZE)

COURT 2 start 11:00am
[Q] M Gonzalez (ARG) vs V Hanescu (ROU)
[Q] V Millot (FRA) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
[Q] P Riba (ESP) vs P Starace (ITA)

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40 Comments for Federer Begins Clay Season Against Kohlschreiber in Monte Carlo; Raonic v. Gulbis Undercard

Nims Says:

Contrary to what the author thinks, I believe Roger sounds not very confident. He thinks it’s Rafa’s tournaments and he is there just to play. The way he quotes “everything is in Rafa’s hands” as if others can’t do much including him doesn’t bode well for his next 3-4 tournaments in clay. I just don’t see him beating Rafa on Clay this year.


Skeezerweezer Says:

It’s idiotic based on Fed’s many past interviews that he should say “I don’t have a chance”. It is a defeatest attitude. The moment Fed comes out and say he is the underdog he is defeated. He believes he can win any tourney he enters. And why not? Love the atitude and in no way it’s arrogant. It’s who he is. Rafa, on the other hand, loves the underdog role and likes to say every match is very difficult. They probably are, to him. Even when plays someone he has beaten h2h 19-0. To each his own. Hey, whatever needs to be said to make u feel comfortable to win, both are right and wrong depending on the fence you’re standing on.

Btw love Milos quotes here, for a quick strike power player he realizes the Dirt game, hope the lessons here bode him well!

Dory Says:

With his class and past achievements, I expect him to always be confident. He’s just lost to the top 2 guys.

dari Says:

What a guy, this roger.60 sec hold game on clay.
Sure, it would hurt to see him struggle playing into much order age and winning less, but the guy is always gonna produce a little magic each match- i’ll be glad to watch him as long as he plays.

madmax Says:

same here dari.

Plus Its good to hear that roger is confident going in to any tournament. He has reached so many finals and achieved so much in his career which is still far from over.

Nims I think you must have been watching a different interview – fed just come off court speaking to reporters saying that he wants to be a great player! to continue improving and getting better – wow – fed wants to “become a great player”.

In no way does he want to play second fiddle, or third fiddle to anyone – make no mistake about that. It’s whether he can tackle those tricky mental moments that I think, hold the key to his future success.

As skeezer says, rafa is the one who always says he is the underdog, when he knows he isn’t. If that’s not a mind game, then I don’t know what is. He is the best on clay. He knows it and everyone else on the tour does. This should be a straight sets win for rafa in monte carlo.

If Roger gets to the final, then that’s 600 points in the bag. I’ll take that thank you very much.

Antonissimo Says:

once again a slanted peice from the closet fed hater sean randall you just have to read somethin negative about roger or hear that fed is about to fold and then check who wrote it and hey presto its guess who!!!never a surprise to me…

Antonissimo Says:

heres a prediction sean Fed will definantly win this one it wont be so tricky…

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Caught the second set of Fed this morning and it was over in a flash. Kohls is a tough out- always brings it against the best players- but he looked lost from what I saw. Fed looked extremely sharp, and had 9/11 net points- not a HUGE number, but in 15 games played on clay, fairly high and very successful.
Fed is not Rafa on clay, we all know that, but he’s the 2nd best clay courter since Guga. He’ll do well this spring.

The Raonic/Gulbis match should be a great one. I hope Raonic keeps in mind that Gulbis’ is the career he doesn’t want his to turn into: all youthful promise and talent depleted to mid-level tour playing with occasional flashes. Very dangerous though: remember Gulbis beating Fed on clay last year, and looking pretty good in the finals against Rafa.

As for Tsonga, I want to like him because his game is very exciting, but I can’t get beyond his Look At Me hand pumps. Is there anything this obnoxious in tennis? Can you just see him practicing that in front of the mirror as an 18 year old thinking how cool it will be to have his own trademark cheer? He looks like an idiot. Anyone who points at themselves as part of their routine is an idiot.

blank Says:

I’ll give Sean the benefit of doubt here. I think Sean is a Fed fan who now knows that the master’s best days are behind him. So he is just trying to put a negative spin to whatever Fed says so that he can easily move on to another bandwagon and not be affected by Federer’s lack of results. I wouldn’t blame anyone for doing that.

Ben Pronin Says:

Bad call against Gulbis and it looks like he’s done for the day.

I don’t know why Verdasco criticized Raonic’s build, he’s perfectly fine for a tennis player.

Ben Pronin Says:

Also I think Raonic can do some serious damage on clay with that vicious kick serve of his. Even Nadal would have some trouble with that one.

Nina Says:

I believe Fed has an honest chance to become n#1 if Nadal or Djokovic falter. He’s not that far behind Nole, if he wins Wimbledon he’s there. I’d never rule him out, I’m not that stupid. I’ll always be fearful of Fed.

dari Says:

oh, geeze, what did verdasco say about milos’s build?

Ben Pronin Says:

After he beat him for his first title, Verdasco commented how Raonic looks like a 12 year old in the locker room but then serves like a monster.

skeezerweezer Says:

You mean Hot Sauce got beaten by a 12 yr old?

dari Says:

Oh, that’s not so bad I thought he said something specific about his build. But have you seen his calves? Only thing 12 year old is his face!
Milos had three mp’s, df’d and then gulbis hit some winners to break. Then milos broke right back at love. Ernieis definitely a choker, but milos really doesn’t give up.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

I took the Tobasco comment to mean baby faced. Funny though, Raonic has actually filled in his frame a bit the last few months. He’s growing up before our eyes. Sunrise…. sunset.

He looks pretty good against Gulbis, and Gulbis is tough on clay. Again confirming that he is a solid top 20 if not top 10 player already…

skeezerweezer Says:

Another Solid win for Milos. Agree TV about his frame, and he is still growing, which way me not sure. Impressive he has a win now on Clay, where Gulbis has had some success against the top guys…

Ben Pronin Says:

Somewhat shocked to see that Gulbis’s career win-loss record is 96-93 (I guess 97-94 after this tournament).

Good win for Raonic. Definitely deserved it as he was the more composed player throughout the match except for that hick-up at 5-4.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Great interview from Another Game For, “I’m actually pretty far behind in my clay court development…”

dari Says:

Milos does have that baby colt look though, so much legs. I’ll have to check my draw and see if I have him going much further, he looked pretty good out there.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Baby-face gets Baby Killer Ferrer next round. Can’t really expect Milos to win, but if he puts up a good fight that will say a lot.

Polo Says:

It looks like Gulbis’ goal is to win only one match per tournament. Another mission accomplished.

Nims Says:

madmax, i have provided the link to the interview. except nadal on clay, I believe roger thinks he can beat anyone. but when it comes to clay, he more or less resigns to the fact that nadal is the best and he is the clear underdog.

grendel Says:

Gulbis was penalised for double hitting, incorrectly in his opinion. You’d think the player concerned of all people would know whether the call is right – apparently not, a player can deceive himself in this situation. At any rate, fair or not, you can’t afford to let the situation get to you if you want to win.

Gulbis let the situation get to him – and how -, was promptly broken, and that was the first set gone. Very childish, you have to think. You watch Daddy looking on stony faced (what a face, b.t.w., like a craggy rock jutting over the edge of a cliff) and you wonder what goes through Daddy’s head. Especially since he is part of the problem. Maybe THE problem. One possible solution occurs to me. What about cutting off all income to young Gulbis, so he has to rough it in cheap hotels (one night cheap hotels)and depends for his next meal on whether he wins or not. I think you might see a change in attitude. And results.

You see this greatly talented young man manouevring Raonic around with some magical play and then, just when he needs to put the boot in, he limply delivers the ball into the net.How can this absurdity be explained? Why the genius shots followed by a shot a club player would be ambarrassed by? Surely the answer is simple: lack of practice. Gulbis is so talented, he doesn’t need to practice. He’s a likeable, funny man but also an arrogant twit. The patient grinding on the practice courts, hour after hour, day after day, would eliminate a lot of this nonsense. But so long as Daddy coughs up his millions, Gulbis will find other ways of passing his time.

I believe Fish had something of this attitude, and is now resolved to change his tune. Trouble is, he might have left it a little late. Pity if Gulbis follows the same route. I mean, you’d think it’d be fairly obvious – that talent alone won’t do it – if only because he gets handed this lesson on a fairly regular basis and in the most painful way possible. But no, the reservoirs of conceit are fathomlessly deep.

Meanwhile, you look at young Raonic, and his mental attitude cannot be faulted. He is clearly destined to go far.

Eric Says:

Ben, Verdasco has an axe to grind against Raonic from when he beat him seventeen times in a row earlier this year, remember? :)

jane Says:

Ben, Gulbis’ win/loss record sounds exactly right to me: he’s a 50-50 proposition. Always can win; always can lose.

grendel, fully agree with your take on Gulbis, and what a shame for us because imagine if it all lit up, including his smile, which is wonderful, more regularly. He coulda (shoulda, woulda) been a contender. Will he ever be? Starting to doubt it… ; (

jane Says:

Nina, agree with you on Fed; he is always dangerous – could definitely get back number 1 since he is a close number 3. If he wins Wimbledon, as you say, he could be there. He’s not one to count out; he is a solid performer in all my fantasy brackets. :)

grendel Says:

Fed says (w.r.t. his match today):”I’m particularly pleased he wasn’t able to exploit any of my, let’s say, weaknesses”. I love that “let’s say”. Imagine that a mass murderer is reporting back to his group following a particularly delicate mission in which his task is to persuade a potential defector to remain with the group. He is extremely proud of how he has handled the situation and adds:”I’m particularly pleased he wasn’t able to exploit any of my, let’s say, murderous tendencies”.

I also enjoyed this comment re Nadal:”
To win the tournament six times in a row, I know how hard it is. I don’t think I’ve done it anywhere.” One imagines Federer scratching his head, “Now, then. Did I do 6 in a row? Done 4, of course. 5 – oh, yes. But 6,now. D’you know, I’ve got a feeling I haven’t managed that one, seems to have slipped me by, somehow. Yes, well done, Rafa. Not the same on clay, of course, but even so. Very creditable.”

Funny lot, champions – they’re all the same (so I hope nobody’s taking offence), just express themselves differently…..

dari Says:

read the same things and thought the same things, grendel!
funny what they do and do not remember, as well.

Kimmi Says:

i think this is the worst kohls has played federer. even though he never beat him, their past matches have been close.

just watched a recorded from youtube. fed was on song, kohls was not. going for too much..too many EU, shanks etc.

Love federer outfit colours. definitely better than miami.

Next up could be Cilic. has fed played cilic before? probably but not many time for sure..

Hope fed brings another magnificent performance :)

Kimmi Says:

great win for meelosh too. not too bad on clay indeed. Possibly ferrer in the next round but who knows, he was able to beat couple of top guy just few weeks ago. go milos!

Tennis Vagabond Says:

I assume Ferrer will take out Milos easily, but thinking back, Milos put up a decent fight in Australia; so my question is: Is the delta between Ferrer’s clay form and his Oz form greater than the delta between Oz Milos and Three Months of Improvement Milos?

grendel Says:

am I missing something? I thought Ferrer had to get past Lopez first? Or is it just assumed that Lopez can’t do didley squat on clay?

Crab Says:

“Not the same on clay, of course, but even so. Very creditable.”

Sour grapes !!!!

Antonissimo Says:

oh my god federer was just able to get past the ‘tricky” phillip k what was the score Sean? oh wasnt it tight? 6 1 6 2, Soooo Tricky!!!!

DC Says:

Philip K was on fire, however Fed was too clever for him. If Fed continues playing like this, he will soon regain #1.

Jake Says:

Hey. I definately think that its rafa’s tournament this year but Rogers confidence suprises me and worries me.

If you want tips on confidence and how to improve your tennis game visit racquettalk.webs.com

madmax Says:

Nina, thanks.


I thought the same about gulbis. He is a spoilt, rich kid. Should be left to fend for himself, but he is too used to the good life. In fact, you probably saw this too, as he was coming onto court with Raonic, sky reporter commented on gulbis…he let out the most massive yawn, yep, that’s right, he yawned, and they commented on this fact. Was he tired? bored? Just really odd to see him do this. before a match. A late night party stretch?

It’s a shame. He should have done to him what the Australian primeminister did to his son.

Gave him $500 and a round the world ticket and said ‘don’t come home for at least 12 months and don’t phone me for more money, make your own’.

It worked.

Until gulbis is prepared to give tennis his all, he’ll always be a dangerous floater.

Fed played reasonable yesterday. I think Kohls didnt play his best and even fed was surprised. I expected more from philip.

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