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Should Roger Federer take a wild card into Monte Carlo?

Should Roger Federer take a wild card into Monte Carlo?

When Roger Federer lost to Andy Roddick in the 3rd round of the Miami Masters it meant his next competitive would be at the Madrid Masters 1000 tournament some 5 weeks later.

Roger’s flying start to the season after his loss in Australia has seen the Swiss rack up considerable ranking points when compared to last year, so should he maintain his charge on trying to recoup the number 1 spot by taking a wild card in Monte Carlo later this April? Let’s take a look….

Historically Monte Carlo has never been a happy hunting ground for Roger, he’s never won the title there and has actually suffered some strange losses. He lost in his first appearance against Vince Spadea way back in 1999 and was actually bagelled in the second set! Clearly this was a very young Roger but he’s since lost there to Jiri Novak, Sebastian Grosjean, David Nalbandian, Richard Gasquet, Stanislas Wawrinka and Jurgen Melzer.

His best performances came back 2006, 2007 and 2008 when he made the final, losing on all 3 occasions to his nemesis and clay specialist Rafael Nadal. Now it’s easy to see why the H2H is so lopsided in favour of Nadal!

For some reason Fed has never been able to play his best tennis at the Monte Carlo Country Club, I don’t know whether it’s the conditions, the stadia or just something about the atmosphere that prevents it but the results clearly show it’s been a tough place for him to play. So should he risk derailing his form by taking a Wild Card into the event?

Reasons Federer should take a wild card

  • He’s been playing unbelievably well since last years US Open.
  • It gives him a chance to collect more ranking points seen as though he has few points to defend (l. to Melzer in QF in 2011).
  • A 5 week rest could be too long a break from competitive tennis.
  • It gives him a chance to win his first title in Monte Carlo.
  • It could give him a better draw at the French Open if he manages to get the Number 2 ranking by playing well in MC, Madrid and Rome.
  • The last time Roger took a wild card into Monte Carlo he lost early but then went onto win the French Open and Wimbledon

Reasons Federer should skip Monte Carlo

  • We all know what happened the last time Roger took 5 weeks off after the US Open – he came back in excellent shape.
  • He should conserve energy for Wimbledon and the US Open where he has more chance of winning a slam.
  • Nadal is tough to beat on clay so it could end up being a confidence zapping loss.
  • Monte Carlo has never been a happy place for Roger

Overall I think Roger would be best off skipping Monte Carlo and focusing his efforts on Wimbledon and the US Open. A lot of people think Olympic Gold is the be all and end all this year, but I disagree, the Olympics were designed to be for amateur competitors, not professionals. So for me Olympic golds don’t come anywhere near the same level as a slam does. Here’s how think Federer should prioritise the remainder of the season – 1.) Wimbledon, 2.) US Open, 3.) French Open, 4.) Olympics.

I also don’t think recouping number 1 is a huge deal, yes it would be good if he could break another record and overtake Sampras for the most weeks spent at number 1. But as we have seen in the women’s game, being number 1 matters very little and it’s winning trophies that counts. I actually believe Roger has said this himself to an extent in a previous interview. So yes, number 1 would be nice, but really slam 17 has to be priority.

What do you guys think? Should Roger play Monte Carlo or miss it as planned? Let me know by voting in the poll below and if you have anything to add then please leave a comment.

Poll Closed

Well I decided to close the poll seen as though we now know Roger is skipping Monte Carlo, a whopping 474 of you thought he should have taken a Wild Card but clearly he resisted the pressure of his fans and decided to miss the tournament as planned. 431 people agreed he should not play it, so in the end it was a pretty balanced poll. Thanks to all who voted!

About Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer - I'll pretty much try and watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Fed and tennis in general.

70 comments

  1. Five weeks is too long, he’d still have 2 or 3 weeks left to rest afterwords. I think he will eventually get it this year if he plays, he finally got Bercy last year. He’s only playing 3 clay tournaments this year, surely it wouldn’t hurt to play one more?

  2. Nadal is 7 times straight champion – beating him in Monte Carlo is going to take a big effort…

    I think he should save himself for Wimby, I’d rather see him whoop Nadal in Halle…

  3. I say he should only take the wildcard if he KNOWS for sure that he will win. That’s a bit of a Catch-22. He could use the points but can do without an early round loss to some unknown loser (SUL) or a confidence sapping slap down by Nadal (or worse, the Djoker). So skip it, Roger. But why not do the usual warm up event in Estoril?

    • Hey Pedro, haven’t seen you comment here before so thanks for contributing!

      Totally forgot about Estoril..could be a good call. I remember when he lost to Montanes there in 2010 though, so another not so good tournament for him!

      I’d love to see Fed take down the title in MC but I know it’s going to be a tough tough ask. You think that losses to Djokovic hurt his confidence more than Nadal? I’m not sure on that one… I think Roger knows he his capable of matching Djokovic even at his best… Nadal is a whole different animal for Fed.

      • With or without Monte Carlo, I see Federer winning Roland Garros this year, preferably in the final against Djokovic (a.k.a. Djackassovic). Roger is a very underrated clay court player. He’s already been in the RG final 5 times and lost four of those to Rafael Nadal. the 2010 loss to Soderling was an anomaly. I see Nadal weakened this year by knee problems and an associated loss of confidence and drive. Remove Nadal from the equation and a second Roland Garros crown will be a nice addition to the RF hardware collection en route to retaking the number 1 ranking in a little place called Wimbledon.

      • i m agree 101% with your thought ……….good

      • Allez!

        Hope you’re right Pedro. Roger is one of the best clay court players around and it’s his worst surface! Testament how good he actually is.

  4. Skip Monte- Carlo, Rest up and come out fresh and confident.

    • You should be his coach Dave! Short & sweet. haha.

      I agree with you though man, there is little to be gained from MC especially with the busy summer schedule. Losing early in Miami makes no difference, it still wasn’t part of his original schedule.

  5. Follow his plan – he knows himself better that we do. Good luck the rest of the way, Fedman!!!!

    • Hi Joy,

      Thanks for the comment. For sure, I guess it’s not in his schedule to begin with for a reason so why deviate?

      The only reason I can see for playing is to tune up, and he took a wild card in 2009, lost early but then won the French and Wimbledon… Nadal had knee troubles back then too. History repeating itself…who knows!

  6. Nice planing,but all he can do is get a nice whooping from Djokovic.All this is well,but at the end of this year its going to be 5:0 h2h for Djokovic,or 5:1 if Federer get extrimely lucky on some smaller tournament.

    • Anyone would think you’re a Djokovic fan?!

      Nole is a good matchup for Roger, so 5-0 h2h by end of the year isn’t going to happen I don’t think. Roger is more than capable of beating him…

  7. @ Serbian Hamburger, this is a respectable Fed fan site. Do your trolling on tennis.com. If anyone can defeat Novak it’s Roger. French Open 2011 need I say more.

    • AO 2011,Dubai 2011,iw 2011,us open 2011 forgot that,your memory isnt so good ,be a little more realistic,Murray has beaten Djokovic,Ferrer,Tipsarevic remember them,big deal,sory to wake you up Fed fans,keep dreaming….

      • Alright we can go back and forth all day if you want. First off Djokovic retired against Murray” REMEMBER”. That’s not really a win and Novak lost against the other two because he couldn’t sustain that level of play throughout the year. Something Mr. Federer can and has done for years. How many tournaments has Federer retired from? How many singles titles has he won? How many grand slams has he won? Novak wouldn’t be half the player he is if he didn’t have Federer to compete against and that’s a fact. You can throw out how many tournaments Federer lost to Novak in 2011 but it’s a new year and Novak doesn’t look like he’s retained that fighting spirit this year and his form is a little up and down. By the way, Roger has won IW2012, Dubai2012, Rotterdam defeating Nadal, Del Potro(four times), Isner(who defeated your serbian prince). I definitely think Novak is good player but he has a long way to go before he can command the respect that’s Roger has earned. Novak lost to Kei too! Guess who won that tournament? You need to wake up and realize that whether you like Federer or not, he still deserves respect for what he has accomplished and what he’s capable of accomplishing. Nobody is dreaming here pal.

      • Totally agree Dave and spot on reply!

        There’s really no argument – even if you go on the weakest argument of H2H Fed still leads 14-10 despite Novak hitting his prime.

        Djokovic is rightfully number 1 because he’s won consistently for over a year, but Fed can and most likely will beat him when they meet this season in my opinion.

  8. Serbian hammer – The name says it all. We need not reply to his comments as this blog is clearly about Roger and what he should do next.
    In my opinion Roger is the best ever because of the variety he possesses and the ease with which he executes.
    I think it would be best for Roger to focus on the slams that he feels most at home with (Wimby and US open) at least until he racks up slam 17 and 18. Once he builds his winning momentum again then maybe next year he can attempt the ones on clay that have been more challenging for him. I see the only reason that Roger has not had success in the last 2 years in slams is a little bit of self doubt at crucial moments in a match. Its very unusual for him but it can happen to the best after having such a long career and dominating for so long. I think if he wins another big one, he has the ability to take that and run to maybe at least 3 more slams.

    • Cheers for the comment Sean.

      I agree – all these losses just boil down to that element of self doubt in some of the big moments (I think he’s even said it himself). That freak return in US Open from Novak pretty much summed up the entire season, small margins costing him. Allowing himself to be rattled a little.

      Slam 17 isn’t set in stone I don’t think but he’s going the right way about making it happen. And I agree that if he does win another, then it definitely makes winning a couple more easier.

  9. I would think that if Roger can win a slam that #1 would soon follow as it would mean he is playing great tennis and gaining confidence.
    My one big question…if Roger were to get #1 back this year and win a slam or 2 or even an Olympic Gold would he ease off in 2013 ? Not necessarily retire but just play less? I know he says he is going to play for more years yet but still….?

    • I don’t think so really – I think winning can only increase his desire to win more. Sure he has said there is no better feeling than holding a slam aloft, so he’d probably be even more motivated to maintain the level.

  10. Also to add to my previous comment, i want to clarify that i feel Roger should skip Monte Carlo and rest. (10 years of service on ATP allows him to skip one mandatory Masters event)
    He still has winning momentum in the Masters events despite a freak loss in Miami and he does not need a hindrance to that rhythm by risking another poor showing at Monte Carlo.

    • Skipping is sensible for sure. Although the poll is pretty close now…

      Nadal is a lock for Monte Carlo usually, although Djokovic playing it this year makes it interesting. May as well let them two fight it out in a 4hr final!

  11. Though I hate to have to wait 5 whole weeks to watch him play again, he played so much the last couple months that I think he really needs this rest time. As was already stated, look what happened after he took the six weeks off after the U.S. Open! There is so much coming up for several months once he starts playing again, things that are obviously very important. He needs to save himself for those. He certainly knows by this time how to manage his schedule!

    • Thanks for commenting!

      I agree, if you sat down and list all the reasons for and against playing I’m sure there are more in the ‘against’ column.

      I know there’s a chance to win a trophy that’s missing from the cabinet but in 10 years will people say ‘Roger never won Monte Carlo’ I doubt it.

      • No one will look at the glass half empty ;)

        Roger has achieved almost everything ! And what people will always remember is that “Roger Federer is and will always be the best tennis player to ever hold a racket”!

  12. It is true that Roger has been playing incredible Tennis ( I mean Tennis – unlike Running Race [running behind each and every ball] what Nadal does always). He moves rapidly with a rhythm, and economical in his motion as usual. This is a time for him to pick up the only Masters title which he could not win so far. Nadal is taking advantage of the surface to increase his titles and ranking points. Roger will be doing a bit of a damage to his rankings as he will be losing 180 points and widen the gap between him and Nadal [No 2] by more than 1000 points. If Nadal loses before final and Federer reaches atleast Semi Final, it will narrow down the gap between him and Nadal considerably. As a Roger fan, I want him to be back as # 1. By the year end, he will have to defend lot of points. So, he has to attain the goal of being # 1 before U S Open. Come Roger.

    • Thanks for the comment V S.

      I hear what you’re saying, (Rome eludes him too though), but wouldn’t you rather see him win a slam rather than chase down number 1? It’s only if you’re outta the top 4 when the draw gets tougher so there’s nothing to worry about.

      Potentially playing Monte Carlo could effect later tournaments. Roger transitions to clay pretty easily and Im sure he’s been practicing on it already.

      The only thing I keep thinking of is 2009 when he took a wild card, lost to Wawrinka of all people then won the French… if someone told me that would happen again I’d take it!

  13. I think he should go by his original schedule. Take a well deserved break (after so many wins) and come back fresh! Something makes me feel he actually was a bit burnt out in Miami and that the effects of his slightly heavy schedule early this year contributed to the loss against AR. Oh, my heart says for what’s missing in the trophy chest, but my head says, go easy and aim for the slams, at least for now.

    • Hi Abi, thanks for the comment.

      You let your head rule your heart I see! Difficult to know if Miami was burnt out or just Roddick playing great and the stupidly slow surface not helping. Resting up makes sense.

  14. Let’s not “forget” the Olympics.. Of course, winning a Slam rates higher than an Olympic gold in tennis. However, winning the Olympics (singles that is) has always been one of Roger’s dreams and a career goal. That hasn’t changed of late as far as I know. He’s really excited about it. The fact that the Games will be held at Wimbledon, just makes it even more special. So I do think it’s one of his main priorities this season. That said, he’ll go “all in” on the upcoming two Slams.

    I also think he’ll stick to his schedule and skip Monte Carlo. He wants to make sure his fitness is as good as it can be, before entering the clay season. I believe he’s better off with a five weeks break and that the Olympics are part of the reason.

    • Can’t agree on Olympics been mega important Randi. They’re a good spectacle but like I keep saying they’re meant for amateurs.

      I think a gold is ‘nice to have’ but not crazy important for Fed. In fact they provide peRFect cover for Fed to fly in under the radar at Wimbledon when everyone else thinks he’s all about tryna win gold a month later.

      Look at recent winners – Rosset – never won anything big, Agassi, ok good player. Kafelnikov – average, Massu – who?! Haha. If it was like a huge thing the semis and finals would be a mirror of grand slams i.e. top 4 players contesting all time.

      • I see your point and personally I’d rather see him win Wimbledon than the Olympics. Ideally, both. I’m just saying that it’s probably more important to Fed himself than many of the fans. Especially this year, when it’s played at Wimbledon. He really cares about it.

  15. Dear Fellow Federer Fans, as much as I like to see Fed play in Monte Carlo I would like him to skip the event to rest for the summer. In Miami, without taking any credit away from Roddick, I thought Federer looked tired. I think if Novak plays MC, it will be a difficult ask for Nadal to defend the title. Winning in Rome is a nice to have as I think he can’t have all the records and the focus should be on the slams. I think he will have to beat 2 of the top 3 regardless to win a slam.

    • Thanks for the comment, I agree not winning Monte Carlo or Rome will take nothing away from his legacy whatsoever…

      If he can win then, then that’s great but it’s no big deal if not.

  16. Federer needs the #2 seed at the French open so that Nadal and Djokovic can meet at the semis. That is the only way he can have a good chance of winning the French Open.

    He should play if he is serious about getting to the #2 seed at the French Open. At the moment he has a 1000 point lead over Nadal in the race to the French Open and will most likely lose that lead by the time Barcelona comes if he doesn’t enter MC.

    • Hi Raz,

      I don’t think the draw works like that, even if ranked at number 3, it’s possible that Djokovic and Nadal are drawn in the same half. Whereas Fed will be in Murrays.

      We will see I guess – tournament starts on the 15th so he doesn’t have too long to make his mind up!

  17. I still don’t get why the world’s number 3 needs a wild card to play a masters 1000 event. Isn’t this a mandatory event? If he can skip it without having to justify it, then he should.

    On the other hand, I hope he takes the WC. Somebody has to stop Nadal from winning his record 8th straight Monte Carlo title and record 20th masters and we can’t keep hoping for Nole to do it again and again.

    • Thanks for the comment Jaime! Glad you made the jump from twitter to my blog.

      Monte Carlo is the only non mandatory ATP Masters 1000 tournament, so players can skip it as they wish. If it’s not on his schedule, he can’t just waltz in at the last minute so I think a wild card is the only fair solution. The only bad thing is that it could potentially take the spot of a rising talented youngster…so in that regard it’s a little unfair. But for the fans/crowd they want to see the best so I see why they do it…

  18. Some people says in above comments that we see that federer is going to win R.G.SLAM and
    I appreciate there anticipate because I m agree with this. I believe that I m one the most big fan of federer from india but it dose not mean that that’s why I m saying that because condition says
    This as we all know that nadal is not doing well since 2011 french open he reached in finals but did not in & other side federer winning & winning in last 3 matches federer won 2 nadal knee is not doing well despite is going to play monte carlo that will heart him in R.G & this well help federer there may be one thing behind that nadal knows that federer is not there so he has chance to add 1 title after a long time but if he wins so he will get just 500 points but if federer wins R.G. so federer will get 2500 points and I m not sure 100% because I 200% sure that this going to true and nadal will never get no-1 again because he lost last 9 matches against joker & now failing against federe but federer can beat easily joker so no doubt federe is going to rule tenis
    Because in last 9 he has 6 tile oh please focus my line than thing I m very excited come on federer.

    • Thanks for the comment Anurag.

      I hope your prediction comes true!

      Not sure we can write Nadal off just yet, he did beat Roger somewhat easily in Australia this year. But his game style is bound to take its toll on his body so maybe he is burning out early.

      Allez les suisse!

  19. i personally think tht roger should play monte carlo and shold try to reach semi or final…. and thn may be he can skip rome with winning at madrid where he gets better time to take some rest and rejuvenate for RG

    • Thanks for the comment Raghu.

      What if he loses to Nadal or Djokovic in MC? Bad or good?

      • a loss to nole or rafa at MC……. tht doesn’t count much and what counts is the winning run for roger , if any loss it will be an ultimate round of the tourny.
        wht he needs is to accumulate points and enter the RG with rank 2, then we can see good draw for roger with rafa falling in noles half.
        you r asking loss to rafa or nole……. i’m very much confident on roger who can beat nole on any surface
        so i would wish him to take wild card into MC

  20. I think MC is not a big deal points wise. Roger should focus on the big ones and the Olympics. The number 1 ranking will fall into place later in the season.

  21. I think that the points you’ve made for both the pros and cons are really valid so I do find it hard to explicitly say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but I am leaning towards the latter.
    With all this said, you’ve brought up this interesting discussion and dare I ask is it because you’ve got news that Roger is making serious considerations towards picking up a Wild-Card to enter the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters?

    • Yeah I think it’s quite tough too! If he hadn’t won the French last time he took a WC into it then it might be easier. But like you I lean towards the latter.

      No news or inside info, just because he lost early in Miami it seems quite logical he could take a wild card – a.) because he’s done it before and b.) because a 5 week break is a long time.

      • You are right, it does seem logical that he takes this wild card. But like you, I still lean towards him not taking the Wild Card because I look at it that he simply doesn’t have too much to defend on clay last year. He’s actually done traditionally well in the Mutua Madrid Open since the (fake) clay courts there are so fast and stuff. Also I might add that he did crash out of the Rome Masters in a rather early and surprising fashion last year, so if anything he’d probably go further this year. He did make the finals of Roland Garros last year but don’t forget the Rafa’s conditions are a rather huge question mark at the moment, Not that I wish him any bad luck (I really don’t) but if Rafa was weakened, Nole should not be as big of a problem for Roger as opposed to, say, hard courts.

  22. roger had a good run in madrid….. so no doubt he’ll enter semi this time, and rome i don’t think it’s necessary to play, he had less points to defend so he can skip and enter RG with some good break…..

    • Madrid is the best clay court tournament for Roger because it’s the fastest clay court around. Think it’s to do with the altitude. Interesting to see what blue clay is like. Have you seen it?

      • ya, roger had his best run in madrid and RG so far on clay….. madrid, i wish him to win it this time.
        seen him playing wide range of shots in madrid.
        and i want to know if roger playing in MC???

      • I’d like a repeat of the Madrid 2009 final!

        Monte Carlo hasn’t been announced yet – starts in 8 days though so he doesn’t have long to decide…

        I think he will stick to his original plan and skip it.

  23. I just read through these comments and I’ve been convinced that Federer is right to stay out of Monte Carlo. It’s really essential to regaining #1 that he perform well during the rest of the clay court season and on the grass. The more difficult but less immediate question is how much of the Asian swing that he skipped last year he ought to play. I guess we’ll have to evaluate that based on circumstances at that point, however.

    • Hey Oliver,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yeah I think skipping is a good move.

      I think he’ll want to play Shanghai because he has a big fan base there, but like you say all depends on the run up to it.

  24. Roger needs to get to # 2 before Roland Garros and even if Roger gets there…he needs to get seeded vs Murray in the Semi. Djokovic could take Nadal out then Roger could get the chance to win the French Open again against Novak. The only way for Roger to win more slams this year is to get to # 2 first. There’s no secret, it is VERY tough for Roger to beat Nadal. It was a big blow to Roger when he lost to Roddick at Indian Wells. I’m not sure why he’s not playing Monte-Carlo, he needs every points he can get to get to #2. I have Nole to win French and Roger to win Wimbledon, Olympics and U.S Open! I just hope ROger to stay healthy for at least 3 more years!

    • Hey Alex,

      I’m not sure losing to Roddick was a big blow to him, it wasn’t like he played amazing and lost, or he should have won but choked.

      Ranking 2 makes no difference, the 3rd and 4th seeded players are pulled out at random, so Roger could still meet Nadal in the semi final at the French…

      Regardless of rankings I think he has a good chance of making a good run..

  25. Great comments from all here.I agree with most here that the Number 1 ranking is not as important as winning slams… indeed winning slams will almost certainly then ‘look after the Number 1 ranking’! HOWEVER, one very important point that has not been stressed is that Roger NEEDS the Number 2 ranking and to push Nadal down to 3. Then there is a CHANCE that Nadal will meet Djokovic in a Grand Slam semi whereas now Nadal CAN ONLY meet Djokovic in a Grand Slam Final as long as he remains Number 2 ( and Djokovic Number 1 ). I have every confidence in Roger beating anyone but sadly he has not beaten Nadal in a Slam since 2007!

    • Thanks for the comment Paul. This post has had some really good comments.

      Yeah I see your point in getting to number 2… I think its better if he faces Nadal though and beats him fair and square. Rather than avoid him in the draw. It’d be more fitting.

  26. Paul Z … perhaps you’re right. I’ve wanted Roger to beat Nadal in a Grand Slam but if we go by recent performances, it appears that its not going to happen. A better strategy is to let Djokovic sort him out.

  27. I would love to see Fed winning this year’s FO & Wimbledon, get back to #1. It’s his call to skip MC & take rest, doesn’t matter. What matters is how he performs at the masters events to follow after MC. Show it to the world that you can beat nadal in a Grand Slam.. Go Roger..

  28. Why would Roger have to be a wild card?
    Why wouldn’t he be admitted as the #3 seed like any other tournament?

    • Because he didn’t include it in his schedule, Monte Carlo is a non mandatory 1000 tournament, players manually enter themselves for it. He can’t just turn up and play at the last minute without a wild card.

  29. Glad he skipped Monte Carlo in fact. Rather focus on other clay tournaments, maybe even a chance of finally winning Rome. He hasn’t won a clay tournament since Roland Garros in 2009, his Career Slam. In my opinion, get RG first to get back confidence, skip Halle although a chance of beating Nadal, win Wimbeldon.

  30. I don’t think he would need a wild card for this event. He can play in any event he wants to because he is the number 3 player in the world and this is a master series, so he is automatically entered in the event unless he decides to pull out or not play.

    • Nah man, Monte Carlo is the only non mandatory masters 1000 event, meaning there is no requirement to play it like the other 9. He would have to take a wildcard because he wasn’t on the original entries list. He is the GOAT, but he can’t just waltz in and mess up the draw. Would have taken a wild card should he have decided to play.

  31. Sid TheCookieThief

    Monte Carlo is the slowest clay anywhere in the world. That it’s right next to the sea is a very big factor. And we all know, the slower it gets…… :)

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