Davis Cup final: Federer will join Wawrinka against Tsonga and Monfils
Roger Federer commits to the Swiss campaign for the Davis Cup title
It has been a tense few days in the Swiss camp as the deadline approached for the final nominations for the Davis Cup final that begins tomorrow.
But after withdrawing from the final of the World Tour Finals four days ago with a recurrence of the back spasm that has flared up intermittently through his career, Roger Federer has now committed to join the Swiss campaign for a first Davis Cup title.
When world No2 Federer had not made an appearance on the purpose-built clay court that has been erected in the vast Stade Pierre Mauroy during the Swiss practice session on Wednesday morning, there was speculation that he may not be fit to join the final squad, but he did join his colleagues for the evening practice session, and then again for early morning training today before the draw itself in the centre of Lille.
And sure enough, Federer took his place in the line-up in central Lille for the official draw, and was confirmed as the Swiss No1 nominee. However, it is world No4 Stan Wawrinka, the second Swiss nominee, who will play the first rubber against France’s top man, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Federer was a blend of optimism and caution in answering questions about his fitness: “We’ll see tomorrow. Only the match gives you all the answers really. Today in practice, it wasn’t the goal to go to 100 percent. I never do in practice the day before a potential match. So I’m just really pleased that I’m actually able to play tomorrow. I’ll give it a go.
“Yeah, so things have been going very well for me the last week. It’s been a difficult week, but I’m happy where I am today.”
Federer takes on Gael Monfils in a rematch of their remarkable five-setter at this year’s US Open. Monfils came within a hair’s breadth of victory over the Swiss in their quarter-final battle before Federer came back from two sets down and two match points in the fourth set to seize the win.
Monfils also took the Swiss to three sets in Cincinnati, too, and beat him in Shanghai last year. Thus far, though, Federer has won all their clay encounters, and Monfils has also had to overcome injury issues—though he assured the press that he was ready to make the most of this opportunity:
“Definitely is going to be special for me because is always good to play Roger. For sure it will help me, this last match on my mind, but this one’s going to be different. You have someone you can share your emotion during the match, the captain who can help me if maybe I’m tight in the match. Definitely I expect to play a big match again because I know I need to play a big match to beat him.
“My advantage is that I have a tactical game that I’m going to play, and if it doesn’t work I’ll have the captain by me on the court, the other players, who will be able to help me and change my game if I need to.”
Tsonga leads Wawrinka 3-2, but they exchanged five-set wins at the French Open in 2011 and 2012, and shared their only two meetings last year, both on clay, both in three sets. Tsonga was well aware of the difficulties ahead:
“Well with Stan, we have a special history against each other. Each time it’s extremely tight matches, whether in a Grand Slam or on the regular tour. I know when I step on that court the only thing that will make a difference will not be the tennis itself but the determination, the will to win. So this is what I’m going to do. I’ll be extremely determined when I come to the court.”
France is bidding for its 10th Davis Cup title, which would take them ahead of Great Britain into third on the all-time list of winners. France also leads Switzerland 10-2, their first match being in 1923—the first year the Swiss took part in Davis Cup—and the most recent in 2004.
Order of play
Friday 21 November, 1pm GMT
R1: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) vs Stan Wawrinka (SUI)
R2: Gael Monfils (FRA) vs Roger Federer (SUI)
Saturday 22 November, 2.30pm GMT
R3: Julien Benneteau/Richard Gasquet (FRA) vs Marco Chiudinelli/Michael Lammer (SUI)
Sunday 23 November, 12noon GMT
R4: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v Roger Federer (SUI)
R5: Gael Monfils (FRA) v Stan Wawrinka (SUI)