Roger Federer is in the Monte Carlo final! Who would have thought that a last minute Wild Card entry would lead to this! I am ashamed to say I didn’t see it coming. I was happy he was getting good practice on clay and shoring up ranking points. I expected a QF, so when he got to the SF after that crazy match with Tsonga, I was already happy. Then he took out Novak in a 2-setter that had a fantastic set followed by a not-so-fun one and now boom! He is in the final and will face Stan Wawrinka. There will be an all-Swiss final for the first time since the Marseille final in 2000 when Rosset won against a young Federer.
In the interest of time I won’t do my usual match report of the SF. Suffice it to say that first set was spectacular. Great tennis from both players doing what they do best. Roger was super aggressive, creating delicious angles and shots and Novak guarded the baseline like only he knows how. There was a crunch time for Roger when he was 15-40 down at 4*-5 and Novak had set points. He came back strongly to win 4 straight points that included this Hot Shot, before leveling the score to 5 all. Roger continued his scintillating shot making to break Novak right afterwards and had a chance to serve for the set which he did took with an ace, 7-5.
As we all know, Novak’s hand was severely taped up but he played a great first set. I think losing the first set really set him back mentally because he knew now he would have to play 2 sets to win. Furthermore, the injections were probably wearing off by then. He probably hoped that if he could have won the first set, he might be able to make a fight for it. But Roger was having a spectacular day and won the set, 6-2. None of the shenanigans from the QF were present. He served well, he volleyed well, he moved well and hit great shots of both wings and kept mixing it up. I honestly think even if Novak was fully fit, Roger would have won. Here is a clip from Roger’s post-match interview.
I hope Novak gets better soon because injuries are awful. But a win is a win. Some haters might claim Novak lost because he was injured and will give no credit to Federer. To them I ask that they spare a thought for any opponent on the other side who has to keep remaining focused and constantly be alert to the erratic levels of play from his injured opponent. He must be ready to accept anything from the injured player: a retirement, an MTO, or even a sudden adrenaline rush of playing excellent tennis. It has to be tough seeing the drama across the net and yet remaining true to your game plan.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand, Roger is in yet another final! His H2H with Wawrinka is 13-1 with Stan’s 1 win coming at Monte Carlo in 2009. Stan excels in clay and has been in pristine form this tournament, playing the best he’s played since winning the Australian Open. He has not played a single bad match at Monte Carlo and comes in fresher than Roger having spent far less time on court. There is a lot riding on this win and Roger will probably have his toughest match yet. Nothing less than the Maestro’s A-game will be sufficient. I am also a bit worried about him playing “his friend Stan” in the final. Hopefully he can set that camaraderie aside once they take the court.
The match is supposed to start in less than 7 hours so I’ll sign off now. But I want to leave you with some stats and records Roger has set by reaching the Monte Carlo final:
- This is Roger’s 117th career final.
- This is also his 36th Masters 1000 final.
- He has now reached the finals of 4 of the 6 tournaments he has played this year (excluding Davis Cup).
- He has won 28 of the 32 matches he has played this year (including Davis Cup matches) which is the most in the ATP so far this year.
- He has now reached at least 1 final of a clay tournament for the 13th consecutive year.
- With the SF win he has widened the tiny gap in the H2H with him and Novak to 18:16.
- He is now 6-2 in his win-loss ratio with the top 10 this year.
- His 3 wins over the Big Four this year are his most ever at this stage in a season.
- He is guaranteed to remain ranked #4 even if he loses the final. Winning it however will change things but I won’t cover that now. If it happens, you’ll see it in the next post.
Pretty remarkable isn’t it? Especially considering that this is his first clay tournament of the year! So proud of him! 😀 well that’s it from me. Here’s hoping for another great win by our hero! C’mon Roger! You can do this! Allez!