Lille, France (SportsNetwork.com) – Roger Federer lost and Stan Wawrinka won,
as visiting Switzerland and France are tied at 1-1 following the opening
singles at the 2014 Davis Cup final.
The Swiss drew first blood on Friday when Wawrinka handled Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
in four sets, while the nightcap saw Gael Monfils douse the former world No. 1
Federer in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3, on some slow red clay in Lille.
The acrobatic former top-10 star Monfils played near flawless tennis in taking
advantage of the 33-year-old Federer, who failed to demonstrate his typical
on-court prowess, perhaps due to a much-publicized injured back.
Already ahead by two sets, a determined Monfils got his fourth break of the
match to grab a 3-2 lead in the third and he would keep Federer down from
Monfils broke Federer once again to close out the rubber, which he did on his
first match point with an easy backhand winner. The uneventful affair was over
in 1 hour, 46 minutes, as Monfils popped 10 aces and tallied five breaks,
while a stunned Federer failed to break his French counterpart on Day 1.
Monfils struck 19 more winners than Federer (44-25), while the Swiss legend
uncorked 11 more unforced errors (29-18).
The 19th-ranked Monfils is now 10-2 in his career Davis Cup singles, while
Federer fell to 37-8.
The world No. 2 Federer is now 8-3 lifetime against Monfils, who pushed the
Swiss icon mightily in their last meeting in the quarterfinals at
the U.S. Open, where Federer had to save two match points before coming
back to win in a five-set thriller.
In the opener in Lille on Friday, the world No. 4 Australian Open champion
Wawrinka bludgeoned the tennis ball in outgunning the former Aussie runner-up
Tsonga on the Frenchman’s home soil, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Wawrinka was spot on with a sensational one-handed backhand and prevailed in 2
hours, 24 minutes by breaking Tsonga’s serve five times. Tsonga had to settle
for only one break in the setback.
The 29-year-old Wawrinka is now 3-3 lifetime against the 12th-ranked Tsonga,
including wins in their last two meetings. The Swiss slugger also topped
Tsonga on some clay in Madrid last year.
Wawrinka improved to 21-13 lifetime in his career Davis Cup singles, while
Tsonga fell to 16-5.
Saturday’s doubles match has a French tandem of Richard Gasquet and Julien
Benneteau facing a Swiss duo of Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer, but
expect Federer and Wawrinka to team up for that one if the great Federer
is fit enough to play.
The Wimbledon runner-up pulled out of last week’s championship match at
the ATP World Tour Finals in London because of his back, a problem that
slowed the Swiss legend mightily in 2013.
Sunday’s reverse singles will pit the 17-time Grand Slam king Federer against
Tsonga and Wawrinka versus Monfils.
The best-of-five tie is being staged on an indoor clay court in front of a
capacity crowd of 27,000 at Stade Pierre Mauroy. That’s the largest-ever crowd
to watch a professional tennis match.
Switzerland is captained by Severin Luthi, while France is guided by
former Aussie runner-up Arnaud Clement.
The French are 10-2 all-time versus the Swiss in Davis Cup play. The two
nations last met in a 2004 quarterfinal that was won by France.
The nine-time champion French are seeking their first Davis Cup title in 13
years, while Switzerland and the iconic Federer have never hoisted the
coveted 114-year-old chalice.
The Swiss finished as runners-up in 1992.