There was little for the Swiss contingent among the #Tennis followers at the Monte Carlo Masters to enthuse about earlier today, with both of their major stars in the men's tournament being knocked out at the 3rd round stage. Roger Federer was defeated by the Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-4 7-6, while his compatriot and reigning champion for the event, Stan Wawrinka fared no better as he also crashed out in straight sets, losing 6-1 6-2 to Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov.
Federer had skipped the Miami event recently, preferring to incorporate an additional training block into his schedule, with the initial results in Monte Carlo seeming to indicate that his match sharpness had not suffered as a result.
His second round dismissal of another French player, Jeremy Chardy for the loss of just three games had seemed solid enough. Monfils proved to be a far tougher opponent though for the four-time runner-up at the Monaco event, building on his success on the same surface against the Swiss ace during last year's Davis Cup final. Whether Monfils has developed a long-term strategy that works against Federer is hard to tell, but he seems to have the edge on clay at present over the 33-year-old. A break of serve in the 9th game of set one provided the Frenchman with all he needed to take the opening set, but Federer seemed to be back in control of his destiny in the second set tie-break with a mini-break to the good. Uncharacteristically the advantage was squandered, with a lead of 5-3 disappearing as Monfils reeled off four points in a row and with it took the match.
Wawrinka had happy memories of Monte Carlo from 12 months ago, having for once beaten his more illustrious compatriot Federer in the final, his sole Masters' tournament success to date (although he has of course also won the 2014 Australian Open title in the past).
The ever-dangerous world number 11 Dimitrov required just 54 minutes to knock him out of this year's event though, as Wawrinka's timing and form spluttered erratically in their match. The shocking statistic of 41 unforced errors by the Swiss player told its own tale, allowing the Bulgarian far too many free points. Early mistakes allowed Dimitrov to race into a 4-0 lead in the first set, which was always going to be too much of a head start for a player of his undoubted capabilities to fail to capitalise on. Even when he had a chance in the second set to break the Bulgarian's serve, Wawrinka failed to take the opportunities afforded to him, allowing his opponent to close the match out.
Rafael Nadal suffered some nervy moments against the big serving American John Isner, before coming through their 3rd round tussle in three sets, after being pegged back in set two by his opponent.
Although not as imperious as in previous seasons on his favourite surface, Nadal will have been grateful to move on to the next round as he continues building towards the French Open in the summer. There were also third round successes for Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic and Marin Cilic.