Lille, France (SportsNetwork.com) – Switzerland drew first blood on Friday
when Stan Wawrinka handled Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to give the visitors a 1-0 lead
against host France in the 2014 Davis Cup final.
The world No. 4 Australian Open champion Wawrinka bludgeoned the tennis ball
in outgunning the former Aussie runner-up Tsonga on his home soil, 6-1, 3-6,
Wawrinka was spot on with his beautiful one-handed backhand and prevailed in 2
hours, 24 minutes by breaking Tsonga’s serve five times, while the flashy
Frenchman settled for only one break on Day 1.
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 clay in Madrid last year.
Wawrinka improved to 21-13 lifetime in his career Davis Cup singles.
Friday’s nightcap on the red clay in Lille will pit world No. 2 Wimbledon
runner-up Roger Federer against former top-10 star and currently 19th-ranked
Federer has a commanding 8-2 head-to-head record against Monfils, although
their last meeting in the quarterfinals of this year’s U.S. Open was a
thriller, with the Swiss saving two match points before coming back to win in
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 healthy enough to play.
The 33-year-old Wimbledon runner-up pulled out of last week’s championship
match at the ATP World Tour Finals in London due to back problems,
which slowed the Swiss legend mightily last season.
Sunday’s reverse singles will pit the 17-time Grand Slam king Federer against
Tsonga and Wawrinka versus Monfils.
The best-of-five affair is being staged on an indoor clay court in front of a
capacity crowd of 27,000 at Stade Pierre Mauroy.
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.