Roger Federer hasn’t been around the tour since the Australian Open. The absence has been a kind of warning to fans who know — but deny just as Federer does — that there will soon be a day when tennis must carry on without the great Swiss master. But finally shaking off the “weird” virus that plagued him of late (and after surgery for a meniscus tear), Federer arrived in Monte-Carlo and made a statement with his racket: that mournful day when we don’t have Federer to watch is still a little ways off.
In his return to the tour Federer swiftly dispatched Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, a 32-year-old who has seen far too much (by his estimation) of the 34-year-old Federer’s form over the years. The 75-minute match ended 6-3, 6-4. Federer has never won at Monte-Carlo, where his longtime rival Rafa Nadal has dominated, winning eight straight from 2006 on. Lately it’s been his other rival, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who has stood in Federer’s way in Monaco. Djokovic won two of the last three Monte-Carlo Masters, but his early exit this year has cleared a path for Federer to perhaps add another title to his very full cup.