In his first clay court match of the season, 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer cruised into the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 event, one of two tournaments on the ATP World Tour that the Swiss star has not won. There, he will encounter Gael Monfils, whom he has faced on 11 previous occasions and leads 8-3 in the head-to-head series.
The world No. 2 faced little resistance from France’s Jeremy Chardy in his opening match at the Monte Carlo tournament on Wednesday. The second seed struck 19 winners, five aces and won 70% of his first service points to close out the match in straight sets. While he did lose a break during the encounter, it did not stop him from securing the 6-2, 6-1 in in exactly 54 minutes of court time.
“I thought Jeremy didn’t serve very well, and I felt good on the return,” said Federer. “So I was in a lot of the service games when he was serving. Then I thought I served well, had a high first serve percentage and was able to control the baseline. On clay, things move ahead very quickly, I must say.”
His upcoming opponent, Gael Monfils, reached the third round with a straight sets win over Alexandr Dolgopolov. He beat the Ukrainian with a pair of tiebreakers 7-6(5), 7-6(6) to edge out the match in one hour and 51 minutes.
“Gaël is such a player. He has capacities that other players don’t have, physically, also because of his power on the forehand and the backhand. It is a real challenge to play him. Often the problem is not on your own racquet against him.”
This marks the 12th meeting between Federer and Monfils, but the first encounter of the season. They most recently met on the clay courts in Lille, which was a meeting that Monfils won in the Davis Cup final. While he has been competitive against Federer in their recent meetings, Federer believes he is better prepared for this match-up, as well as the clay court season.
Prediction: Roger Federer in Three Sets