Given Rafael Nadal’s resurgent form on the other half of the bracket, no one fully expected Roger Federer to claim his first trophy in Monte-Carlo, one of three significant titles that eludes him (Rome and Olympics singles gold the others), but few thought his run would end in the quarterfinals.
That’s what happened on Friday though, as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bounced back from a bad first set to beat Federer, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. Betwen Tsonga’s backhand errors and Federer finally showing signs of rust from his time away from the game while recovering from knee surgery (and later, illness), it was a scratchy match. Tsonga, certainly not an elite returner, broke the Federer serve frequently in the final two sets. With an opening to break back and force a deciding tiebreaker, Federer finished the match with three straight errors, showing frustration by hitting the ball into the crowd following the second of said errors.
Federer, always measured and viewing the big picture, admitted it was a successful first tournament back despite the loss, expressed confidence the rusty parts of his game will improve, and added he’ll wait for about 10 days before deciding whether to play the next Masters 1000 event in Madrid.
As for Nadal, he carried over the strong form from his win over Dominic Thiem to sweep past a slightly out-of-form Stan Wawrinka, combining peak defensive retrieving and biting groundstrokes to advance 6-1, 6-4. He’ll face Andy Murray (who thumped Milos Raonic, 6-2, 6-0, after the Canadian appeared to have again reaggravated his adductor injury) in the first semifinal on Saturday, followed by Tsonga taking on countryman Gael Monfils, who comfortably ended the underdog run of Marcel Granollers.