stanislas Wawrinka signalled his French Open ambitions when he beat Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 in an all-Swiss Monte Carlo Masters final.
Third seed and Australian Open champion Wawrinka, 29, recovered from the loss of the opening set to claim his maiden Masters title on the Monte Carlo clay just six weeks before the start of the Roland Garros showpiece.
“I am really happy, after having won a first grand slam title to win a Masters, it’s outstanding,” Wawrinka, whose career has finally taken off as he approaches 30.
Federer, whose only defeat in 14 previous encounters against Wawrinka had occurred in Monte Carlo in 2009, said: “I had a great week. Congratulations to Stan, I hope it will continue for you like that for years.”
Fourth seed Federer, who had beaten an injured Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, was his brilliant old self for almost an hour but the 17-times grand slam champion was eventually overwhelmed by his opponent’s power.
Federer saw off a break point in the fourth game, Wawrinka banging his racket on his head in frustration after his passing shot went long – and Federer at that stage seemed the more composed player, breaking for 3-2 as Wawrinka’s usually reliable backhand sailed long.
Another long backhand from Wawrinka gave Federer the opening set after 42 minutes.
Wawrinka opened a 2-0 lead in the second set, only for his opponent to steal his serve straight back with a stunning backhand down the line passing shot. Federer saved more break points in the fourth game, including one with a superb forehand winner as the second set went into a tiebreak.
Federer saved two set points before Wawrinka finally finished it off with a smash. Wawrinka broke in the first game of the decider with a forehand winner down the line as Federer looked disorientated.
Federer went to the net to save another break point at 2-0, but a crosscourt forehand earned Wawrinka a second break and a 3-0 lead.
He followed up on serve and Federer never threatened a comeback, bowing out on yet another forehand winner by Wawrinka.
“I can see that when mentally I’m there and I’m fighting, I can play tennis, I can beat all the players,” Wawrinka added. “When I came here, for me it was more like a test. I knew I was playing good tennis, but I didn’t expect to win because the draw was so strong.”
Meanwhile, Djokovic raised questions over his participation in both the French Open and Wimbledon as he admitted he could not play tennis for “some time” because of a wrist injury.
The Serbian was struggling with the problem as he lost to Federer and afterwards conceded he needed to take a break from the sport. The six-time grand slam winner said he would not be having surgery, but could not put a timescale on how long he would be out for. Any lengthy absence will raise doubts as to whether or not he will be able to play the French, which starts on 25 May, and Wimbledon, from 30 June.
“The good thing is I don’t need to have surgery,” said the 26-year-old, who lost to Andy Murray in last year’s Wimbledon final.
“I don’t have anything ruptured or something like that. I’m going to go see doctors tonight and then tomorrow again have another MRI.
“I really don’t know what’s the diagnosis, to be honest. I just rest now. I cannot play tennis for some time. How long, I don’t know. It’s really not in my hands anymore. I’m going to rest and see when it can heal 100 per cent, then I will be back on the court.”
Djokovic suffered the injury in training between winning the Sony Open in Miami and heading to Monte Carlo.
He added: “The pain was there every single day from ten days ago. At some stages it was very painful. Between the first and second match I had a day off so I didn’t practise at all and I healed a little bit. Then again I started playing.
“I had two weeks between Miami and Monte Carlo. It’s not like I was tired or I had some long trips or something like that. It just happened during the practice week. Sometimes it just happens. It’s not predictable.”