With the 2014 French Open a little over a month away, the stars of the ATP Tour descended upon Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, for the next step in the clay-court season—the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.
Novak Djokovic entered as the defending champion. He ended Rafael Nadal's eight-year reign as king of the Monte Carlo Country Club.
The No. 2 player in the world called last year's title "one of the highlights of my career," due in part to the fact that his family came out in droves to see him play, per the Associated Press, via ESPN.com. Perhaps that home-court advantage helps to level the playing field against one of the best clay-court players in the history of the sport.
As if revenge from last year won't be enough of a motivating factor for Nadal, he'll also likely think back to his straight-sets loss to Djokovic at the Sony Open back in March. In fact, going back to last year, Rafa has dropped three straight to his main rival. He shared his thoughts on the matter (via ESPN.com):
Sure it always affects (you) but I hope to (be) ready to be back and compete on clay. In Miami I didn't play my best level in the final. I didn't compete well enough. I wasn't ready yet to play that match and he played great, but I didn't push him.
Although the field for the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters is littered with some of the biggest names in men's tennis, all signs pointed to this year's final being the next chapter in the rivalry between Djokovic and Nadal.
But it would be the most recent Grand Slam winner in Stanislas Wawrinka rising above the field to take the this Masters singles title. Read on to find how how it all unfolded in what was an unforgettable tournament overall and an excellent final battle between Wawrinka and his prolific compatriot, Roger Federer.