The rain came and went, and so did the pale imitation of Roger Federer.
It was always going to be a tough match-up so early in the tournament: feeling rusty, feeling cold. And Stan Wawrinka more than has the ability and the clay-court game to trouble his compatriot’s composure. Until now, though, the No. 13 seed has always seemed a little in awe of his more extrovert and assertive countryman.
But as soon as the draw was out, one sensed that this might be one of Stan's best chances.
Right now, Federer is far from his most consistent and intimidating. He doesn’t like the chill and the damp. He doesn’t like to have his rhythm broken by the weather. And he’s had pitifully little practice time on the red clay coming into Monte Carlo.
There has also been that minor distraction of a wedding.
But Federer will take some time to live down this particular disappointment, despite his assertion in his post-match interview yesterday that he forgets about bad matches within an hour or so and moves on.
His serve is still not functioning well—though there had been a few signs of a modest return of the weapon against Andreas Seppi. A 52 percent success rate for the first delivery is simply not good enough.
As a result, he endured 14 break points, and it was not surprising, therefore, that Wawrinka broke through often enough to take this straight sets victory, 6-4, 7-5.
So Federer has lost ranking points. He has gained little court time. And his invincibility has lost a little more of its lustre.
Where will he go from here?
All roads lead to Rome, but it looks like being a bumpy journey for Federer and we faithful followers.