Stanislas Wawrinka

Winning a big one is hard, but consistency and greatness is even more difficult. The Monte Carlo Masters isn’t a Grand Slam, but it’s an indication that Stansilas Wawrinka might be here for more than just a short period of dominance, as he walked all over Roger Federer to win his first ATP 1000 tournament.

This has happened to Federer too many times recently: Great in the first set but suddenly misfiring in the second and third, and losing tiebreaks at an alarming rate, something he used to be the king of. Maybe losing to his countrymate and his “heir” isn’t as bad as losing to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic (who Federer beat in the previous round), but it still shows that a player hungry for another major title before he calls it quits is missing too many things for anyone to consider him as a favorite.

Monte Carlo has always been troubling for Federer, the only Masters title he has yet to win. Wawrinka made it a nightmare still. He beat Federer after 11 consecutive losses, as he has gotten rid of negative streaks against Djokovic and Nadal a few months ago in Melbourne. He is 6-0 this season against  top-10 players and it’s probably his aggression and focus in key sets that’s the big difference compared to the past, when he was simply talented but not a true winner just yet.

He made Federer look old and tired. He moved closer to the baseline in the third and final set, winning 13 of 14 points off his first serve. Federer was kept guessing and on his heels, broken in serve twice and eventually broken in fighting spirit as well, realizing it just wasn’t going to happen for him once again in Monaco. So does this mean Wawrinka is a favorite, or one of them at least, to win the French?

Nadal losing in the quarterfinals of Monte Carlo dropped and shuffled the deck. You never know what to expect from the Spaniard these days – focused, aggressive and sometimes brilliant tennis on hard court and especially clay, or flat, weak and uninspiring performances like the one he produced in the loss to David Ferrer, an opponent that hasn’t beaten him in exactly 10 years.

Djokoivc isn’t a threat anymore, but an equal. On clay, Wawrinka has the edge over Federer as well. It’s weird thinking of someone outside the big four heading into a Grand Slam tournament as a favorite. Andy Murray doesn’t count when it’s the Roland Garros, but Djokovic is injured (or saying he is to explain a rough loss to Federer) and Nadal just isn’t as scary anymore. Wawrinka might still be an acquired taste, but it’s becoming less and less of a surprise to see him lifting major trophies.

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