STANISLAS WAWRINKA showed that his first Grand Slam title wasn't a fluke, upstaging his more illustrious countryman to add a maiden Masters trophy in Monte Carlo yesterday.
Wawrinka came from a set down to beat Roger Federer, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, in the Monte Carlo Masters final, another milestone in the late-blooming 29-year-old's career.
Having beaten Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to his Australian Open victory this year, Wawrinka showed again he can compete with the best by earning just his second career victory against Federer in the first all-Swiss ATP final in 14 years.
"When I go into a match against them, I think I can beat them. I'm on the court to win," Wawrinka said. "I'm more consistent and I have better results. The difference is that now I have more trust in myself."
Wawrinka, whose ranking has climbed to third, has won all three finals he's played this year.
Djokovic, hampered by a sore right wrist, lost to Federer in the semifinals, while eight-time champion Nadal was beaten by David Ferrer in the quarters.
That opened the way for the third-seeded Wawrinka, but he still had to get past 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer, who held a mighty, 13-1 advantage over him before the final.
"When I came here, for me it was more like a test," Wawrinka said. "I knew I was playing good tennis."
The fourth-seeded Federer, who accepted a wild-card invitation to play in the tournament, was also looking to win the Monte Carlo tournament for the first time after losing his three previous finals here to Nadal from 2006-08.
Wawrinka's only other win against Federer also came here, in the third round in 2009. The two won the 2008 Olympic doubles title together and are close friends.
"Today it was a personal challenge. Playing against Roger is always very special," he said.
"I think he deserved it just a little bit more," Federer said. "It's a huge win for him after winning his first Grand Slam this year, also to win his first Masters."
In other tennis events:
* Germany will take on the Czech Republic in the Fed Cup final after both countries wrapped up their semifinal victories by winning the first reverse singles. Germany's Angelique Kerber overcame Australia's Sam Stosur in three sets and former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Italy's Roberta Vinci, 6-3, 7-5, as both countries took insurmountable 3-0 leads.
Meanwhile, the U.S. team failed to qualify for Fed Cup World Group for next year when it lost to France, 3-2, in St. Louis.
* Seventh-seeded Donna Vekic, of Croatia, earned her first WTA title by beating top-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, of Slovakia, 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (4), in the Malaysian Open final.
* A team official says a goalkeeper died on the way to the hospital after being kicked in the head during a championship tournament match in the West African country of Gabon. Sylvain Azougoui, of the AC Bongoville soccer club, had just stopped a shot on goal, but the attacker lost his balance on the wet grass and stepped on the 30-year-old goalie's head.
* PEC Zwolle won its first Dutch Cup title by stunning Ajax, 5-1.