Switzerland sealed their first Davis Cup title after a classy victory over France. Much of the talk before the final had centred on the fractious relationship between Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer, with the former claiming that Federer’s entourage were deliberately putting him off during their recent showdown at the ATP World Tour Finals.
However they seemed to have patched up their differences, and they needed to, as they faced a talented French team, backed by a vociferous home crowd in Lille.
Wawrinka was the first to take to the court, and he faced a tough assignment in the first singles rubber against the expressive Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Having been dogged by injuries throughout his career, Tsonga is not quite the force that he was two years ago, but even so is a formidable proposition at No.12 in the world. However, Wawrinka made light work of his opponent in the first set, taking it 6-1. This could have been the start of a rout, but to his credit Tsonga stormed back to level the match. The home crowd must have sensed a mini-upset, but Wawrinka displayed all the mental grit that led him to his first Grand Slam final in January, and came through relatively comfortably in the end.
This put pressure on Gael Monfils, who, despite his undisputed talent, has not delivered enough in the big matches. So, it was all the more surprising when he produced arguably the performance of his career to crush Federer in front of a world-record crowd. The 17-time Grand Slam Champion may still have been feeling the effects of the injury that recently forced him out of the final with Djokovic, but even so, Monfils displayed incredible levels of composure and completely nullified his opponent’s usually potent groundstrokes, while displaying incredible athleticism himself.
This left the contest fascinatingly poised, and so the Swiss shuffled their pack. Despite his lost the previous day, Federer was put in to bat alongside Wawrinka, instead of the expected doubles pairing of Michael Lammer and Marco Chiudinelli. The decision was an inspired one as they cruised past Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet in straight sets. This resulted put a huge dent in France’s hopes of claiming the title for the first time since 2001.
Federer strolled onto court the next day suitably buoyed by his performance alongside his long-time friend, and his fine form from the doubles match carried over into his encounter with Richard Gasquet. Despite slipping to No.26 in the world, Gasquet is no slouch. However, when Federer is on his game, there is arguably nobody better. After edging the first set, this year’s Wimbledon finalist stepped it up a notch, displaying his usual array of jaw-dropping groundstrokes as he left his opponent chasing around the court in vain. In what seemed like no time at all, Federer had wrapped up victory and, in doing so, led his country to their first-ever Davis Cup triumph.
Featured image: The Boston Herald