After a crazy Friday, things settled down Saturday during the Monte Carlo semifinals. If fact, it was rather anti-climatic. Stan Wawrinka came out of the blocks strong and then held on to beat David Ferrer 6-1, 7-6.
And then his countryman Roger Federer joined him in the Sunday final with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over an ailing Novak Djokovic.
The defending champion Djokovic spoke at the start of the week of having some minor wrist issues, but when he took the court wearing an extended wrist wrap, the concern grew. And sure enough late in the first set you saw signs of pain etched on Djokovic’s face as he held that right wrist. From there a tightly contested match was effectively over.
Wrist injuries are especially problematic for tennis players, just ask Juan Martin Del Potro and Laura Robson. Let’s hope this one isn’t too serious for Novak because with two more Masters events and two Slams around the corner, this is a horrible time for such an injury.
Roger Federer v Stanislas Wawrinka
As for the two finalists, what a break. Neither had to play the King of Clay Rafael Nadal who fell to David Ferrer in the quarters. So both have had some good fortune, and both have benefited from injury – Stan from the Nicolas Almagro walkover and Federer today.
“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.”
Entering the final, Stan hasn’t dropped a set in quality wins over Milos Raonic and Ferrer. Federer was a little off against JW Tsonga on Friday, but played well against Djokovic though the Novak was clearly not at his best.
So Wawrinka seems to be back in form while Federer is clearly playing good but he’s harder to gauge, for me.
Obviously Stan gets some points here because it’s clay and the only time he’s beaten Roger was in Monte Caro. But Federer owns his younger protege winning 13 of 14 and after having taken a wildcard in the event, he’s now just two sets from his first Monte Carlo title. And I think Roger gets it done.
To me, Stan should win this match. Top down he’s the stronger player on clay. Better off the serve, better off the backhand and return. Federer is maybe a better mover and I’ll take his forehand. The problem for Stan is the mental question: can he beat Roger in a big match? I just haven’t seen it.
Then again if you haven’t noticed it’s been a season of streak busters (see Ferrer yesterday). So it wouldn’t surprise me. But 13-1 speaks volumes and I’ll probably be wrong (been wrong all week!)…
The pick: Federer in three
Tennis Channel has the coverage at live 9am ET.
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Stanislas Wawrinka: It’s Amazing And It’s Special To Win My First Masters 1000