No missing Monte Carlo title for Federer this year as he was defeated by Gael Monfils 6-4 7-6(5) in 1 hour and 44 minutes to bow out in the third round.
It's the very beginning of the clay court season. It's going to take me some time to feel 100 percent comfortable… Not many guys are perfect this week. But it was a good week for me anyways to come here and practise with the best, play a couple of matches. At least gives me some information, if I'm trying to be a bit positive right now.
The win means Monfils makes his first Monte Carlo quarter finaland he's now defeated Roger back to back for the first time in his career. Well deserved too; Monfils hit 22 winners to Federer’s 17 and only made 22 unforced errors compared the 38 from the Swiss.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to serve, holding to 15 to kick things off. He won the opening point on the Monfil's serve but 4 straight points from the Frenchman meant he too made a promising start.
In game 4 and with a 2-1 lead Roger capitalised on some sloppy play from Monfils to break when he hit a well executed short slice return to lead 3-1.
Things looked to be heading in the right direction but like the Chardy match yesterday he failed to consolidate the break hitting a double fault on break point.
The break back spurred Monfils on and he began to get the upper hand from the back of the court, breaking again at 4-4 with some solid hitting before serving it out to 15 to take it 6-4.
It was an uncharacterisitc FedExpress derailment moment from 3-1 onwards and he only made 48% of first serves and won just 1 rally that went over 9 shots. That's not going to get it done against Monfils who we know can play solid when he's focused.
Into set 2 and Monfils maintained his steady form from the first set as both guys exchanged holds. Leading 2-1 Roger fashioned his first break point but failed to convert as Monfils held. The Frenchman then had 2 break points of his own but Roger came up with some clutch serving to edge in front 3-2. The Swiss then had to save another breakpoint at 3-3 again coming up with a top quality volley to snuff out the chance.
In game 8 Roger looked to be raising his level as he moved to 0-30 on the Monfils serve but couldn't capitalise and both players exchanged holds for 5-5. Monfils then had his fifth break point chance of the set which Roger saved with a timely ace before holding for 6-5. Monfils replied with a 1 minute hold to love to force the breaker.
With Federer to serve he lost the opening point of the tie break with another error and his record of P4 W1 L3 in breakers this year it was a less than ideal start. However Monfils wasn't able to take advantage, handing the mini break straight back. Roger then moved up 5-3, hitting a powerful return in the process but then Monfils reeled off the next 4 points to book his spot in the Quarters against Dimitrov. Match point actually summed this one up well; a forehand dragged wide into the tramlines to bow out tamely.
|G. Monfils||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||54%||52%|
|1st Serve Points Won||30/44 (68%)||30/45 (67%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||23/37 (62%)||21/42 (50%)|
|Break Points Saved||2/3 (67%)||6/8 (75%)|
|Service Games Played||11||11|
|1st Return Points Won||15/45 (33%)||14/44 (32%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||21/42 (50%)||14/37 (38%)|
|Break Points Won||2/8 (25%)||1/3 (33%)|
|Return Games Played||11||11|
|Net Points Won||6/9||12/19|
|Total Service Points Won||53/81 (65%)||51/87 (59%)|
|Total Return Points Won||36/87 (41%)||28/81 (35%)|
|Total Points Won||89/168 (53%)||79/168 (47%)|
Thoughts on the Match
I never felt at ease, and I never felt the way I wanted to be on the court. There are many things I could have done better. I could have served better. I could have mixed it up a bit better. Also I didn't play my slice backhand well enough. There are some things I did a little bit better and some other things I didn't do well. Anyway, I never felt comfortable during the whole match… I only have to accept what went wrong and go from there.
I think Fed sums it up pretty well with the quote above – he never felt at ease. After going up a break in the first set and failing to consolidate things just didn't go his way. Monfils was the guy bossing the rallies and forcing the issue from the back of the court; that isn't the position Fed is going win matches from especially on clay.
Roger had patches of good play but never sustained it for long enough; hitting a ton of errors off low percentage shots and his poor serving never gave him breathing room on the return to swing free.
In the second set I thought he did well saving break points with first strike tennis but in extended rallies he never came out on top. Either missing by inches with some high risk shots or playing too predictably which allowed Monfils to rip it even from a good few feet behind the baseline. Y U NO USE SLICE MORE ROGER?
Not a match that will live long in the memory for me as it was low on quality. Roger served poorly and Monfils played well within in his comfort zone. Slightly annoying considering he looked good against Chardy yesterday but not a hard loss to fathom as Roger's results on clay haven't been all that great over the last few years. We've seen losses to Chardy, Gulbis, Montanes, Nishikori, Soderling, Melzer and Wawrinka all in the early stages of tournaments so nothing new. The good news is that he usually has at least 1 decent tournament on clay during the swing when conditions are better suited and his game just clicks into gear. With Monte Carlo out the way there's 3 or 4 more for him to have a crack at 🙂
@Sashasimba123 got none for Fed. First outing on clay, anything can happen.
Next stop is Istanbul but first more training in Switzerland before the tournament starts on 27th of April. It's only a 250 so will field a much weaker field than Monte Carlo so I like his chances of finding the right sort of gameplan and rhythm to hang with the best on the clay for Madrid, potentially Rome and then Paris.