MONACO (AP) — On a bad day for Switzerland, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka both exited the Monte Carlo Masters in the third round on Thursday.
Federer, who played his first tournament in nearly four weeks, made too many mistakes in a 6-4, 7-6 (5) loss to Gael Monfils after Wawrinka — the defending champion — was routed 6-1, 6-2 by Grigor Dimitrov.
“It’s the very beginning of the clay-court season. It’s going to take me some time to feel 100 percent comfortable,” the second-ranked Federer said. “Not many guys are perfect this week.”
It was Monfils’s second consecutive win on clay over the 17-time Grand Slam champion after he beat him in straight sets during last year’s Davis Cup final, and Federer’s earliest loss in Monte Carlo since 2009.
Federer has changed his schedule this season to allow more time for training and was not expecting to peak early on the dust. He will now return to Switzerland to do some more practice before tournaments in Istanbul and Madrid.
Federer’s quest for a second French Open begins on May 24 and he believes he has enough time to make the proper adjustments.
At 33, Federer’s main ambition is to add more major titles to his resume and he is still unsure whether he will show up at the Rome Masters.
“It was a good week for me anyways to come here and practice with the best, play a couple of matches,” said Federer, a four-time runner-up at the Country Club. “At least it gives me some information, if I’m trying to be a bit positive right now.”
After they traded early breaks, Monfils took advantage of Federer’s forehand errors to break in the ninth game and served out the set on his first occasion.
Federer’s charges to the net in a tight second set were loudly cheered by the fans but the Swiss’ lack of consistency from the baseline sealed his fate. He failed to build on a 5-3 lead in the tiebreaker, losing the final four points.
“I never felt like things were really happening the way I wanted them to be going during the whole match,” Federer said. “The way I felt at 53 sort of showed how I really felt, I guess.”
Earlier, Dimitrov capitalized on Wawrinka’s awful display. The seventh-seeded Swiss got off a sluggish start and never found the right balance. He also failed to convert four break points in the sixth game of the second set.
Following a series of disappointing results on hard court, Wawrinka was hoping to advance deeper at the clay-court Masters tournament.
But he could not follow up his solid opening-round showing, hitting 13 unforced errors as Dimitrov raced to a 4-0 lead. The Bulgarian player fended off Wawrinka’s assault in the sixth game and broke for 3-1 in the second set after the former Australian Open champions shanked three forehands.
Widely regarded as a future star of the game, the 23-year-old Dimitrov saved two other break points and sealed his win after Wawrinka sailed yet another forehand out of court to drop his serve.
Wawrkinka was booed as he left the court.
Fourth-seeded Milos Raonic advanced to the quarterfinals for the second straight year, extending his perfect record over clay-court specialist Tommy Robredo to 4-0 with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win.
“It’s 10 months since I last played on clay and I’m still finding my way, but at least I know my objectives, how to reach my goals. It gives me a little bit of a jump start,” said Raonic.
Up next for Raonic will be Tomas Berdych , who beat
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