Stanislas Wawrinka (right) beat Roger Federer for the only the second time in 15 meetings. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Stanislas Wawrinka rallied past Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Sunday to win the Monte Carlo Masters and remain the No. 1 Swiss on the ATP Tour.
With the first Masters 1000 title of his career, Wawrinka will stay at No. 3 in Monday's rankings. If Federer had won his first Monte Carlo title, he would have passed Wawrinka for the No. 3 spot. Instead, Federer will continue at No. 4.
''When I go into a match against them, I think I can beat them. I'm on the court to win,'' Wawrinka said of facing the top players. ''I'm more consistent and I have better results. The difference is that now I have more trust in myself.''
Wawrinka, the Australian Open champion, won his tour-leading third title of the year and seventh overall. The 29-year-old defeated Federer for only the second time in 15 meetings, with both victories coming in Monte Carlo, where Wawrinka also got the best of his good friend and Davis Cup teammate in 2009.
In a match briefly interrupted by rain, Wawrinka overcame a slow start to reel in Federer over two hours and 13 minutes. Wawrinka had 11 winners and 17 unforced errors in the first set, but he made only 17 errors in the final two sets. He finished with 33 winners and 34 errors compared to 21 winners and 38 errors for Federer.
The turning point came in the second-set tiebreaker, which Wawrinka played flawlessly. He rolled to a double-break lead, at 4-0, in the final set and closed it out easily to improve to 6-0 against top-10 players this year.
''I think he deserved it just a little bit more,'' Federer said.
Game-by-game analysis of Wawrinka's big win below:
11:29 a.m. ET | Stanislas Wawrinka defeats Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 to win the Monte Carlo Masters.
No drama for Wawrinka. He serves it out at 15 and nails an inside-out forehand winner to seal his first ATP Masters 1000 title. Great comeback from Wawrinka, who overcame a nervy start to stay with Federer in the second set and then play his best 30 minutes of tennis starting in the second-set tiebreak before rolling through the third set.
Final match stats:
Final stats. (Screengrab from TennisTV)
The final stat sheet doesn't really tell the story, as Wawrinka's numbers improved as the match progressed. He hit 11 winners to 17 unforced errors in the first set but hit 22 winners to 17 unforced errors for the remainder of the match. Though his service percentage dropped, he was serving better in the latter stages of the match and those easier holds allowed him to relax and grow in confidence.
As for Federer, his reaction to losing the second-set tiebreak was surprising; he quickly fell behind 0-4 in the third. But credit to Wawrinka for not letting up and keeping Federer under pressure. He earned those errors. Monte Carlo remains one of the three ATP Masters 1000 titles that Federer hasn't won, but this was undoubtedly a good week for him. His wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic will continue to fuel his belief this season.
Swiss tennis is doing just fine. (Screengrab from TennisTV)
11:23 a.m. ET | Wawrinka holds, leads *5-2. Wawrinka holds and he's one game away from his first ATP Masters 1000 title (he's now made a final of all three clay Masters), seventh title overall and tour-leading third title of the season. Federer holds at love and the Swiss No. 1 will serve for the match after the changeover.
The Prince of Monaco joins in on the wave as the Princess of Monaco hides her face in shame. (Screengrab from TennisTV)
11:17 a.m. ET | Wawrinka holds, leads *4-1.
It's dead silent in the commentary booth and the Monte Carlo crowd doesn't really know what to do either. Wawrinka is steamrolling through this set and Federer is completely off his game. The Swiss No. 2 is finally on the board with a hold.
11:11 a.m. ET | Wawrinka breaks, leads *3-0.
Wawrinka comes out riding his wave of confidence, breaking Federer immediately. Now it's Federer who's become frustrated, screaming in anger after a bad bounce and muttering to himself. Wawrinka consolidates easily and he's up 2-0.
Wawrinka earns another break point for a double-break lead but it's bravely saved by Federer. He pulled the trigger on a backhand up the line to open up the point and took control from there. Wawrinka gets it back to deuce after a fantastic rally, winning with a backhand pass.
Everything is out of sorts for Federer, who's is struggling just to hit the ball cleanly at this point. On his second break point of the game, Wawrinka converts with a well-constructed point that he ends with a forehand winner. What an incredible 20 minutes of tennis for Stan.
10:55 a.m. ET | Wawrinka wins the second set 7-6 (5).
Wawrinka forces a third set with a nice, clean tiebreak win. Here's how it played out:
1-0, Wawrinka: Service winner out wide.
2-0, Wawrinka: Federer shanks a backhand wide.
2-1, Wawrinka: Nice deep approach shot to Wawrinka's backhand by Federer and Stan can't pass him. The net rush has been more than effective today.
3-1, Wawrinka: Federer sends a forehand long.
4-1, Wawrinka: He decides to serve and volley behind a booming serve up the tee and puts away the easy volley.
4-2. Wawrinka: Federer earns a short return and comes in behind a deep forehand approach again to Wawrinka's backhand.
Wawrinka is 5-0 against top 10 players this season. (Julian Finney/Getty Images)
4-3 Wawrinka: Stunning lunging volley winner from Federer. Wawrinka has to be wondering what he has to do short of black magic to get a passing shot to land.
5-3, Wawrinka: Wawrinka is starting to take a page from the Federer book and get to net. Puts away the easy ball.
6-3, Wawrinka: Huge "COME ON!" from Stan as he hits a big backhand that earns the error from Federer. Three set points.
6-4, Wawrinka: Federer yanks him side to side and earns the error.
6-5, Wawrinka: Federer smacks a curling ace out wide. One more set point for Wawrinka.
7-5, Wawrinka: He serves and volleys on set point and puts away the easy overhead. No Stanimal reaction this time. Just a quiet fist pump and a sigh of relief.
Well done to Wawrinka to play his best and most contained tennis in that tiebreaker. Good decision-making and he continued his trend in the second set of minimizing his errors and forcing Federer to come up with the goods.
Here's a look at the second-set stats:
Second-set stats. (Screengrabs from TennisTV)
The big flip is on Wawrinka's winners and errors. He was minus-6 in the first set and finished plus-3 in the second set. While Wawrinka tightened things up, Federer upped the aggression, hitting 11 winners to 18 unforced. He played a much cleaner first set, hitting five winners to 12 unforced.
10:46 a.m. ET | Federer holds, tied 6-6*.
Another no-drama hold for Federer, who has brought his first-serve percentage up to 60 now. Wawrinka has cleaned up his errors but still can't get much of a look to break. He follows up Federer with a hold of his own, ensuring that at a minimum this set will go to a tiebreak.
And that's where we're headed. Federer holds at 15.
10:36 a.m. ET | Wawrinka holds, leads 5-4*.
Federer holds at love. See? I told you the rain would put him in a positive frame of mind.
Wawrinka with a straightforward hold as well.
10:29 a.m. ET | Wawrinka holds, leads 4-3*.
The umbrellas are still up in the crowd, but the umpire says they'll try to play anyway. Federer holds at 30 as the rain continues to fall. He did win the 2009 French Open in the rain, so this should all be positive flashbacks for him. He won't be happy about his serve in this second set, though. He was at 70 percent in the first set, but he's serving at 54 percent in the second. That's been reflected in the scoreline of each service game. He's not holding as easily as he was.
Wawrinka holds at 15.
10:15 a.m. ET | Wawrinka holds, leads 3-2*.
Wawrinka almost gets the third straight break in this set, earning a break point. But Federer saves it with a one-two punch and then holds with a successful serve and volley attempt on game point. Federer dodged a bullet in that game. No, really, Wawrinka went right at him at the net and he dodged it.
Federer dodges a bullet. (Screengrab from TennisTV)
Wawrinka holds and here comes the rain. The spectators are pulling out their umbrellas and it looks like we'll have a slight pause in play to see how bad this rain will be. The supervisor is out and the players are sitting on court waiting.
The expected showers have arrived. (Screengrab from TennisTV)
10:09 a.m. ET | Federer breaks back, leads 2-1*.
Do we have ourselves a match? Wawrinka is starting to land the haymakers he was sticking yesterday in his win over David Ferrer, and he breaks Federer in the second game.
The lead is short-lived. Wawrinka can't back it up, falling to 0-40 in the next game and getting broken as Federer converts his third break point of the match with a scintillating backhand pass. That was a sick shot.
Wawrinka watches a lunging Federer backhand sail past him. (Screengrab from TennisTV)
9:57 a.m. ET | Federer wins the first set 6-4.
Federer closes it out easily. Well, not easily. He did fall down:
Clay is slippery. (Screengrab via TennisTV)
Not much to say about that first set of tennis, which wasn't the most awe-inspiring but that's mainly due to Wawrinka, who hasn't found his game today. It's hard not to underestimate the pressure he feels coming into this match even if he is, at least not on paper, the underdog. There's just a little too much doubt in his game today and he hasn't had to make Federer do much to win that first set.
First set stats. (Screengrab from TennisTV)
It's not a horrible stat sheet for Wawrinka. The key, though, is that the errors came on the biggest points, specifically in that fifth game to get broken and then in the eighth game when he had a 0-30 lead on Federer's serve to get back at level.
9:48 a.m. ET | Federer holds, leads *5-4.
Another frustrating return game for Wawrinka, who earns 0-30 on Federer's serve only to hit two unforced errors, chip a backhand return long and send yet another error long.
Wawrinka navigates another tough service game that gets to deuce. He's just not playing with much conviction at the moment, clearly tying to out-think his opponent rather than just play. When he decides to come to the net, his approach shots lack authority and he gets passed. When he tries to rally from the baseline, he just can't get the measure of the court. He holds unconvincingly and Federer will serve for the set.
9:43 a.m. ET | Federer holds, leads *4-3.
Serving to consolidate the break, Federer builds to 40-15 but two bad errors get it to deuce. No problem for Federer, who wins the next two points to hold. He is no doubt the calmer one out there and he's got the clearer mind. His decision-making has been perfect. Remember, this is only Wawrinka's third ATP Masters 1000 final. This is Federer's 36th.
Wawrinka holds at 15. Thanks to shots like this:
9:35 a.m. ET | Federer breaks, leads *3-2.
This time it's Federer's turn to save a break point, and he does at 30-40. Wawrinka misses a big opportunity, though, as he has a clean look at a passing shot down the line and puts too much air under it and sends it long. Federer holds.
Not a whole lot of rallies over five shots so far. Wawrinka has to deal with another deuce game. He gets to game point but can't convert and a string of loose errors come quickly. Federer gets a look at his second break point of the match and doesn't have to do much to convert it, as Wawrinka fires a backhand long. First blood to the Swiss. The older one.
That's the first time Wawrinka has been broken after 29 consecutive holds this week.
9:25 a.m. ET | Wawrinka holds, leads 2-1*.
Error-strewn game to start the match, but Wawrinka holds after saving a break point with some big serving. Already you can see how familiar these two are with each other's patterns. It might take a few games until both men settle down and play well.
Federer holds with a serve and volley, sticking a nice volley that ticks the sideline on game point. Wawrinka responds with an easier hold, hitting big and forcing Federer errors.
The question for the day is whether this match will see The New Stan or The Old Stan. The Old Stan is 1-13 against his friend. The New Stan is a Grand Slam champion who is 5-0 against the top 10 this year. The opportunity is big for both men.
9:15 a.m. ET | Warm up
The rain has held off for now in Monte Carlo and Federer and Wawrinka are on court. Nick Lester of TennisTV says the two actually warmed up together before the match, which just goes to emphasize what an odd occasion this is. They're such good friends, but you wonder if Wawrinka can tap into the competitive edge he needs to beat Federer for the first time since Monte Carlo in 2009. He can be the more explosive player, but it takes nerve to sustain that level of hitting.
Philipp Kohlschreiber had the best reaction to this all-Swiss battle:
Wawrinka won the toss and has chosen to serve. Ready? Play.
The Swiss tennis powerhouse. (Screengrabs from TennisTV)
No. 4 Roger Federer will meet No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters on Sunday. The first all-Swiss ATP final since 2000 follows the doubles final, won by Bob and Mike Bryan, and is scheduled to begin no earlier than 9 a.m. ET.
The winner of the match between Davis Cup teammates will be No. 3 in Monday's rankings. Wawrinka supplanted Federer as Swiss No. 1 after winning the Australian Open in January, but Federer has a chance to take that title back here.
Both men are seeking their first Monte Carlo title. In fact, Wawrinka is looking for his first Masters 1000 title. A victory would give Wawrinka a tour-leading third title in 2014.
Federer advanced to the final with a straight-set win over Novak Djokovic. Wawrinka -- who has saved the only two break points he's faced in three matches this week -- earned his spot with a straight-set win over David Ferrer. This will be their first meeting of the year. Federer leads the head-to-head 13-1, and Wawrinka's only victory came in Monte Carlo in 2009.