Stanislas Wawrinka denies Roger Federer his first title in Monte Carlo
World No. 3 beats his friend for only the second time in 15 clashes
Wawrinka comes from behind to triumph in Sunday's final
Germany will play Czech Republic in the final of women's Fed Cup
Stanislas Wawrinka used to refer to himself as “the Swiss tennis player who loses.”
But no longer.
While the 29-year-old has spent most of his career in the shadow of his friend Roger Federer, the most successful male player of the modern era, the 2014 season has brought a new world order.
Not only has Wawrinka won his maiden major at January’s Australian Open – earning him the new moniker of “Grand Slam Stan” – but he has now ticked off another box after claiming his first Masters title.
The celebrations were muted on Sunday as he and Federer hugged over the net in Monte Carlo, but deep inside Wawrinka was buzzing after coming from behind to triumph 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 against the 17-time grand slam champion.
Such is their close relationship, it had been dubbed “the friendly final” as Federer went into the match with a 13-1 advantage in their meetings.
“It’s amazing for me. It’s always special to play against Roger, my best friend and the best player ever. It’s always difficult to play him, especially in the final,” Wawrinka told CNN World Sport after claiming the $550,000 first prize.
The 1,000 ranking points that came with it will put him top of the Race to London standings for the season-ending championships.
“I’m really, really happy with my match today. I did a great job and I’m enjoying it a lot,” added Wawrinka, who received the trophy from Monaco’s Prince Albert and Princess Charlene.
Not only did he beat his Davis Cup teammate, on Saturday the world No. 3 also defeated sixth seed David Ferrer – who upset top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.
“I’m really confident with my game. I know that I can beat all the players,” said Wawrinka, who appeared to step up a gear after a brief rain delay at 3-2 up in the second set.
“I did an amazing job this week, beating some amazing players. Physically, when I’m at my best, I have a chance to beat all those guys.
“I’m going to enjoy this, I think that’s important. It feels great, winning on clay, winning against Roger, it’s really special.”
With Nadal’s invincibility on clay seemingly having slipped a little, and second-ranked Novak Djokovic awaiting a scan on the injured wrist that hampered him in Saturday’s semifinal defeat by Federer, it leaves the way open for Wawrinka to contemplate further success at the upcoming French Open.
Federer’s participation at Roland Garros is in some doubt as he awaits the birth of his third child, but the former world No. 1 can take some heart from his showing in the principality despite losing the final there for the fourth time.
“Of course, I’m very happy for Stan,” the 32-year-old told reporters. “To take the opportunities when they’re there, that’s key in a tennis player’s career.
“I think it’s one of the those finals that I could have won. But Stan was tougher at the end. I think he deserved it just a little bit more.”
Meanwhile, Germany will face the Czech Republic in the final of the women’s Fed Cup teams competition in November.
The Germans will contest the title match for the first time in 22 years after taking an unassailable 3-0 lead against Australia in Brisbane on Sunday as Angelique Kerber beat former U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur 4-6 6-0 6-4.
The home team then won the dead doubles rubber, as Kerber and teammate Andrea Petkovic prepared for the long flight back home for this week’s WTA Tour event in Stuttgart.
The Czechs crushed defending champions Italy 4-0, with former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova clinching a home final as she won the third singles rubber 6-3 7-5 against Roberta Vinci.
Klara Koukalova and Andrea Hlavackova then won the doubles, avenging last year’s 3-1 semifinal defeat by Italy.
Also on Sunday, Croatia’s Donna Vekic became the youngest player to win a WTA Tour title in eight years as she upset Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova at the Malaysian Open.
The 17-year-old won 5-7 7-5 7-6 (7-4) against the top seed in her third top-level final. She is two months older than Vania King was when the American won a 2006 tournament in Bangkok.