Roger Federer ousted defending Monte Carlo Masters champion Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-2 on Saturday to set up an all-Swiss final against Stanislas Wawrinka.
Djokovic complained of soreness in his right wrist at the start of the week and took to the court with it heavily strapped. Although he seemed to be fairly comfortable at the start of the semifinal, the wrist seemed to affect him more toward the end of the first set, and he was serving way below his best throughout the second.
The fourth-seeded Federer entered the tournament only after accepting a wild card invitation, having missed the two previous editions, and he bids to win it for the first time after losing three consecutive finals to eight-time champion Rafael Nadal from 2006-08.
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Sunday’s final will be the first all-Swiss final since Marc Rosset beat Federer in Marseille in 2000, and the first time that Federer and Wawrinka meet for a title. The odds appear against Wawrinka, who trails Federer 13-1 overall. But he will take heart from the fact the only win was here, in the third round, back in 2009.
Djokovic missed two break points when he had Federer 15-40 down in the 10th game, but Federer’s backhand got him out of trouble and he saved the next one with a smash at the net.
Federer’s touch was inconsistent in his quarterfinal win against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but he was sharp against Djokovic, teasing him with one casual drop shot that surprised the Serb and drew loud cheers from the center-court crowd soaking up the Mediterranean sunshine. Federer broke for 6-5 when Djokovic netted a weak forehand. At the changeover, Djokovic nursed his right wrist as he sat in his chair, looking stern-faced and pensive.
Djokovic’s first-serve speed dropped to 160 kph (100 mph) in the second set and he was unable to properly flex his arm as he tried to return one Federer shot in the third game. It was becoming too easy for Federer, who secured successive breaks to take control. He raised both hands in the air after winning on his first match point, and Djokovic sloped off looking despondent and doubtless worried about his wrist.
Wawrinka progressed after beating Spaniard David Ferrer 6-1, 7-6 (3). Wawrinka has six career titles but has lost his previous two Masters finals on clay — at Madrid last year and in Rome six years ago to Djokovic.
Although the third-seeded Wawrinka made a string of unforced errors — 40 compared to 12 for Ferrer — he hit far more winners, 31-8, in beating Ferrer for a third straight time. “It was important to move well, be aggressive. That was my plan,” Wawrinka said.
Sixth-seeded Ferrer looked in good form when he beat Nadal in Friday’s quarterfinals, but was unable to withstand Wawrinka’s aggressive approach, and spent much of the semi pinned behind the baseline.
Wawrinka remains on course for his third title of the season, the fourth of his career on clay and his first in any Masters event. He moved to 5-2 in the tiebreaker with a drop shot that Ferrer could not reach and clinched victory on his second match point when the Spaniard rushed a two-handed backhand into the net. Ferrer, the 2011 runner-up, rarely troubled Wawrinka, forcing only two break-point chances.
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