Stanislas Wawrinka will bid to defend his Monte-Carlo Masters title in 2014, but Rafael Nadal will be dangerous as he searches for his ninth title at the Country Club.
The Monte Carlo Rolex Masters is the first major European tournament that opens the clay season. Many illustrious players have contested the title over the years, with Spain’s Rafael Nadal holding the record with eight successive titles at the Country Club in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.
However David Ferrer ended the dominant Spaniard’s title hopes in 2014, defeating him in straight sets 7-6 (1), 6-4. But it was reigning Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka who defeated Ferrer in the semi-finals thereby becoming the 11th active player to record 100 ATP Masters 1000 match wins. Wawrinka went on to win the title; his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title with a victory over his compatriot Roger Federer in the final. In the first all-Swiss final in 14 years on the ATP tour Wawrinka defeated Federer 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2.
"It's always special to play Roger. We know it's always a strange match, especially being in the final here. He's my best friend on the tour. We respect each other so much. I'm just trying on the court to win the match,” Wawrinka said.
“Before and after, we are still very good friends. During the match, we just try everything to win. Today I'm really happy to take that one.
I can see that when mentally I'm there and I'm fighting, I can play tennis, I can beat all the player. I did an amazing job. I'm really happy after winning my first Grand Slam to win a Masters 1000 so quick. I didn't expect to. 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,” he continued.
It was just Wawrinka’s second victory over Federer, marginally increasing their head-to-head record to 2-13. Interestingly enough, Wawrinka’s only other victory over Federer came at the same venue, in the fourth round of the tournament in 2009. Wawrinka went on to reach the semi-final that year but was ousted by Novak Djokovic. The following year, Djokovic defeated him again in the third round, before Wawrinka managed to reach the quarterfinals again in 2012, but Nadal ended his title hopes in straight sets. Last year, the Swiss was a quarterfinalist but fell to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 3-6, 4-6.
However, there was no stopping Wawrinka in 2014. He became the 59th different winner of an ATP World Tour Masters tournament and thereby broke up the domination of the ‘Big Four,’ who had for so long conquered the Masters series. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Andy Murray had won 34 of the past 36 Masters 1000 tournaments.
"Of course, I'm very happy for Stan. It's a huge win for him after winning his first Grand Slam this year, also to win his first Masters 1000. To take the opportunities when they're there, that's key in a tennis player's career. So I'm very happy for him,” Federer said.
Despite his lengthy dominance on the tour, Federer has never lifted the Monte-Carlo trophy after finishing runner-up to Nadal on three consecutive occasions in 2006-2008.
"I think it's one of the those finals that I could have won. But Stan was tougher at the end. I think he deserved it just a little bit more,” Federer said.
“Clearly it would have been nice to win that second set tie-break. I didn't necessarily play a bad one, but also at the same time I didn't quite ever get into the lead where things went my way.”
"I would have loved to have won a second title [this season] because I've come close a few times. That's my next objective, that I get to the very end more frequently. But clearly I'm happy that the clay court season started so well for me."
Wawrinka received 1000 Emirates ATP Rankings points and $549,000 in prize money with the victory. The top ranked Swiss is expected to return to defend his title in 2015. With much curiosity building around Federer’s future, it is unknown when he will decide to retire, but there is no doubt tournament director Zeljko Franulovic will welcome him back to the tournament.
Nadal holds a staggering 50-3 win-loss record at the event and will be eager to extend on in it in 2015 as he bids for his ninth title at the Monte-Carlo country club. Novak Djokovic is also likely to return as he looks for a second title in Monaco whilst Andy Murray will also be expected to return to the event after missing the 2014 edition due to injury.
The ATP Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters are scheduled to take place between 13 April – 20 April 2015.