The much awaited ATP 1000 Monte Carlo Masters marked the beginning of the clay court season leading into the Roland Garros but for Federer fans, the tournament would stage the return of the former World No 1. The cameras focused on the Swiss, after his 2-month long break due to a knee surgery which saw him miss out on many of his favorite hunting grounds on hard courts.
He eased past the first 2 rounds beating G. Garcia-Lopez (6-3, 6-4) and R. Bautista Agut (6-2, 6-4) with the precision of a Swiss watch. The hopes of a Federer-Djokovic semifinal clash dashed to the ground when World No. 55, Jiri Vesley sent Novak Djokovic packing in the second round of the Tournament.
Federer was now pitted with the heavy-built Jo-Wilfred Tsonga who had quietly made his way to the quarterfinals through his powerful trademark tennis.
The Swiss took the early advantage by sending an exquisite backhand down the line to take go up 2-1 in the first set. The French came back later for the equalizer. The 7th game at 3-3 proved to be the deciding point in the first set with a well-timed approach shot giving Federer the break, who later took the first set 6-3.
The second set saw Tsonga play with much dominance and authority .Federer did try to lengthen the set by breaking him in the sixth game, but could not quell the Frenchman’s fire as he took the second set 6-2.
The finesse of Federer against the hard-hitting Tsonga got the crowds going as they cheered every point in the third set. With the rallies getting longer, no player was ready to heave the first sigh. At 4-4, Federer leading 15-0, passed a majestic return to pave the way for a break to lead 5-4 and serve for the match. 2 points away from victory at 30-15, Roger lost his way to concede a break to Tsonga to make it 5-5. Poor selection of shots and a predictable approach-to-the-net play saw Federer losing the break to Tsonga to go down 6-5.The Frenchman calmly served out to win 3-6 6-2 7-5 and record his sixth win over Federer to make it 11-6 head-to-head.
Tsonga now goes on to play fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils in the semifinals.
Federer, ever optimistic, had only positives to speak of his game, “It was a good match. It was nice to play an intense match. I’m happy [with] how the body reacted. So many good things this week. It’s all positive for me.
“Number one, it’s good to play a tournament after having had surgery. Number two, it was good to play one match. It was good to have a match with a rest, then to play again. Now it was good to play back-to-back, yesterday and today. Then it was good to play 2 hours 10 [minutes] today.”
The third set proved to be a reminder that even for a consummate pro like Federer, pressure situations can prove too much handle unless one has some games behind him.
It would not be long though before we see Roger playing his best tennis, presenting the innumerable tricks up his sleeve (the much awaited Sneak Attack By Roger – SABR on clay courts), that earn him the title of the Swiss Maestro.