Roger Federer has been knocked out 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) of the Monte Carlo Masters in the third round by Gaël Monfils.
It was Monfils’ 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.
Federer, who played his first tournament since losing in the Indian Wells final nearly four weeks ago, made too many mistakes in a match featuring some spectacular shots.
He initially moved 3-1 ahead via an early break but Monfils hit straight back and then outplayed the Swiss from the baseline to break again at 4-4 before clinching the opening set. The second went with serve, then Federer built a 5-3 lead in the tie-break before losing four points in a row.
“It was not the best end to the match,” Federer said. “I should have done better with the break up in the first. I think I did a good job to hang around the second set. I also had chances of my own. But I never felt like things were really happening the way I wanted them to be going during the whole match.”
“I’m surprised I was able to increase my power so quickly,” said Monfils. “I played solid and I played better than yesterday. I was able to hit hard from the baseline; to be aggressive. I’m very pleased with the match.”
The World No. 18 hit 22 winners to Federer’s 17, while the Swiss struggled with 38 unforced errors and could only capitalize on one of his three break point opportunities.
The 28 year old notches his biggest win of the season, having also been a quarter-finalist in Rotterdam (l. to Berdych), notched a semi-final spot in Montpellier (l. to Gasquet) and reached the final in Marseille (l. to Simon).
A four-time finalist in Monte-Carlo, Federer was looking to join a small group of players who have won 200 or more ATP World Tour matches on both hard and clay courts. The only other three players to have hit 200 or more wins on hard and clay courts are Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo.
Dimitrov will now face Monfils in the quarter-finals after his sensational win against Wawrinka earlier today.
The third seed Rafa Nadal, who ruled in Monte Carlo from 2005-12, overcame John Isner, but was given a fright. The Spaniard had to save two set points in the opening set and then found himself pegged back before advancing to the last eight 7-6, 4-6, 6-3.
Federer said he would return to Switzerland to prepare for more clay-court action in Istanbul and Madrid.