Stanislas Wawrinka won the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time Sunday, rallying to beat Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 in a rare all-Swiss final.
The Australian Open champion had lost his previous two Masters finals, and looked like losing a third until Federer’s level dropped suddenly late in the second set, and Wawrinka began troubling him with his aggressive backhand.
Federer was also looking to win it for the first time after losing his three previous finals here Rafael Nadal from 2006-08.
Wawrinka has now beaten Federer twice in 15 matches, and both victories have come here. He also beat him in the third round in 2009.
'It’s exceptional to be able to win my first Masters title here,' Wawrinka said.
It was the first time that Federer and Wawrinka met in a championship decider. In the last all-Swiss final, Marc Rosset beat a then-teenaged Federer in Marseille in 2000.
With the third-seeded Wawrinka serving for the match, Federer shouted in frustration as he missed an easy forehand on second serve at 15-15. On the next point, Federer’s backhand went wide, and Wawrinka clinched the victory with a crisp forehand winner that landed on the line.
The players, who are good friends, shared a warm hug at the net.
'I had a great week here,' Federer said. 'Congratulations to Stan.'
It is Wawrinka’s seventh career title, and third this year. His previous appearances to the finals at Masters events — at Madrid last year (l. to Djokovic) and Rome (l. to Nadal) in 2008 had ended in defeats.
Federer broke for a 3-2 lead when Wawrinka’s backhand long, and served out the first set when his countryman over-hit another backhand.
Wawrinka secured a break to take a 2-0 lead in the second, but Federer broke straight back with a brilliant passing shot down the line, and confidently held to love to send the second set into a tiebreaker.
But then he seemed to lose his way.
One sloppy backhand from Federer allowed Wawrinka to move 2-0 ahead, and the Australian Open champion moved 4-1 up with a volley.
Federer saved two set points at 6-3, but Wawrinka levelled the match with a clinical smash after Federer had returned a bit too high.
Federer has now lost three of his four finals this year, with the other defeats coming against Djokovic at Indian Wells and Lleyton Hewitt at Brisbane.