Federer Adds To Legacy, Helps Switzerland Clinch First Davis Cup Crown
FRANCE 1, SWITZERLAND 3
Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, France (Indoor, Clay)
Roger Federer added to his legacy Sunday by helping Switzerland clinch its first Davis Cup trophy, one of the few tennis jewels to have eluded him, against nine-time former champion France.
The World No. 2 was in sparkling form against Richard Gasquet, casting aside any fears about his back injury, in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory in the first reverse singles rubber of the final at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille. Switzerland is the 14th nation to capture the Davis Cup crown.
France’s captain Arnaud Clement opted for Gasquet over his original selection, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but Federer proved to be too strong a force and recorded his 73rd singles match win in 85 matches this season, which included five individual titles from 11 finals. The 33-year-old Swiss ends his 2014 campaign as the oldest year-end No. 2 in Emirates ATP Rankings history (since 1973).
Federer lost to Gael Monfils on Friday, but teamed up with Stan Wawrinka in Saturday’s doubles to give Switzerland a 2-1 advantage. World No. 4 Wawrinka, who beat Tsonga in the first rubber of the final, had been due to meet Monfils in the fifth rubber.
Federer was noticeably nervous in the early exchanges against Gasquet, who put into place a game plan of targeting the Swiss' backhand and striking approach shots to Federer's forehand. Federer quickly picked up on this, stepping into the court to gain a foothold in baseline rallies. He broke Gasquet to advantage for a 2-1 lead, with a forehand winner down the line, and then fought back from a 0/30 deficit to settle his nerves.
With better movement, Federer's confidence grew. Gasquet saved one break point at 2-4, 30/40 with two exquisite backhand volleys to hang in the opener. Federer kept the pressure on Gasquet, who saved three sets points at 3-5, 15/40 and Ad Out. In contrast, Federer won three love service games in a row. He won 21 of his 25 service points in the 45-minute first set.
Federer raised his level of play in the second set, despite Gasquet's attempts to bring the French crowd into the rubber. Federer broke serve twice, in the first and seventh games.
Gasquet kept fighting in the third set, but Federer was relentless in finding holes in the Frenchman's game. Federer came into the net on every short ball as Gasquet played three metres behind the baseline. In breaking Gasquet for a 3-2 lead, Swiss spectators started celebrating Federer's performance and the role of Wawrinka in bringing the nation its biggest trophy. Federer completed the one-hour and 52-minute victory with a backhand drop shot winner.
Federer first competed for Switzerland in the international men's team competition in 1999. Prior to this year, he had helped the nation reach the 2003 semi-finals (l. to Australia). He has a 38-12 singles record for Switzerland (51-16 overall).