MONTE CARLO - Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka eased into the Monte Carlo Masters final on Saturday, setting up the first all-Swiss title showdown in 14 years.
Federer, who has never won the trophy in the principality, beat Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-2 as the defending champion and world number two struggled with a right wrist injury which limited his serving to the 150kph range. Wawrinka, the Australian Open champion, saw off David Ferrer 6-1, 7-6 (7/3), a day after the Spaniard stunned eight-time champion compatriot Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals. Federer featured in the last all-Swiss final when he lost to Marc Rosset in the 2000 Marseille decider, back in the days when the 17-time Grand Slam title winner was still a raw teenager.
Federer, a loser in three Monte Carlo finals to Nadal, will be making his first title bid in the tournament since 2008. Djokovic's loss ended a 13-match win streak and a run of 23 in a row at the Masters level. The Easter Sunday title match-up will be huge for both men, but Federer goes into the match with a psychological edge standing 13-1 over his Davis Cup doubles partner and good friend. But Wawrinka won his only match in the series in the 2009 Monte Carlo third round. "It's great, for sure, to play a Swiss player, especially Roger," said Wawrinka. "Today I'm very satisfied with the way I played. I was very pleased with my game in the first set. I was also pleased with my game in the second set, although I was a bit more hesitant.
"He changed his tactics and became more aggressive with his forehand," he said of Ferrer, who on Friday had condemned Nadal to his earliest exit from the tournament since 2003. "I tried to be tougher on myself. I tried to play long rallies, still moving forward when I could. I m not surprised with my game or the way I'm playing. Today was a little bit slower." Wawrinka lost the Rome Masters final to Djokovic in 2008 and went down to Nadal in a Madrid Masters title bid last May.
He improved to 19-3 on the season and appears to have overcome his post-Australian Open slump where he lost early in both Indian Wells and Miami. The Swiss had not faced a break point until his meeting with Ferrer, improving his record in the series with the Spaniard to six wins against seven losses. "Stan was very good, he was playing unbelievable," said Ferrer, who trailed 5-0 in the first set. "I didn't have options to resist him.
"I didn't return very well, but in the second Stan had a few mistakes and I was able to play with more power with my forehand. But he was better, and he moved the ball better than me." The win marked the 100th victory for Wawrinka in Masters events and left him with a 15-6 Monte Carlo record from seven appearances.