Tennis

Roger Federer's desperation for Davis Cup win carrying Switzerland

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Roger Federer’s post-match interview after sending Switzerland through to their first Davis Cup final in 22 years on Sunday typified everything about his hunger to continue to succeed.

The 33-year-old accounted for all three of his team’s points in a 3-2 semi-final win over Italy in front of an 18,000 strong home crowd in Geneva, and victory was completed with a 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 triumph over world number 17 Fabio Fognini to send the hosts into an unassailable 3-1 lead.

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“It's fabulous to share in this moment," he said after being lifted onto the shoulders of his team-mates for a lap of honour.

“After the difficult defeat in 2003 (where Switzerland lost in the semi-finals to Australia, with Federer losing the tie in the fourth rubber after squandering a two sets to love lead to Lleyton Hewitt) we had another chance this year.”

Desire

It is this desire to win for his country and the willingness to settle scores that could well be carrying his nation towards their first Davis Cup title.

With it being the only best of five set title that he is yet to win in a career that has seen him win 17 Grand Slam titles, the time has never been more fitting for him to tick off the last item on the list.

The Basel-born player spent a record 237 consecutive weeks as the world number one between February 2004 and August 2008, winning 10 Grand Slams in that time, and he would have expected more than just two quarter-final appearances in that period.

A stronger team than ever

But the art to winning the Davis Cup is in producing a team effort that can not be matched, and now that compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka has broken his Grand Slam duck at the Australian Open, while also reaching a career high ranking of third earlier in the process, the team are coming to the boil at just the right time.

While he has not been able to add the elusive 18th Grand Slam this year, his world ranking has risen from sixth to third under Swedish coach Stefan Edberg, and he reached his first major final in two years at Wimbledon, where he was beaten in five sets by world number one Novak Djokovic.

There seems to be an added motivation to his game this year, as he has rediscovered his calm and collected persona that had been missing in a shockingly disappointing 2013, where he won only one ATP title and made just one Grand Slam semi-final.

Losses to Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round at Wimbledon and Spain’s Tommy Robredo in the fourth round at the US Open last year have almost been forgotten, and he is looking far from ready for retirement.

Looking to the final

That is without suggesting that he and Switzerland will be more deserving of the title than the French team, who will be their opponents in the final in November, as they are also yet to taste victory in a Davis Cup final, with their last title win being in 2001.

Trouncing reigning champions Czech Republic 4-1 is no mean feat, and despite holding home advantage on the Philippe Chatrier Court at Roland Garros in Paris, being able to prevent world number six Tomas Berdych from winning a point is something they may not have expected going into the tie.

Whether they can stop arguably the greatest player tennis has ever known with a more than capable sidekick in Wawrinka is a different matter altogether, but they will once again hold home advantage.

Were it not for the fact that it will have to be held in an indoor venue at that time of year, they would surely have picked an outdoor clay surface to host the tie, Federer’s weakest, to aim to even things up.

Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga both picked up crucial victories in the singles rubbers against the Czechs on Friday, and both will rate their chances against Wawrinka, who has shown vulnerability of late.

The Swiss number two lost in the quarter-finals of the US Open to Japan's Kei Nishikori and being beaten alongside Marco Chiudinelli by Italian doubles pair Fognini and Simone Bolelli on Saturday.

Who will win?

Mitigating factors, such as injuries, end of season form and adaptability to an indoor surface will play their part, though Switzerland are likely to go into that tie as favourites with a majority of bookmakers.

While he can boast more Grand Slams and time as the world number one than his great on court rivals Djokovic and Rafael Nadal of Spain, Federer has not been able to match their achievements of winning a Davis Cup final, as was the case with Nadal in 2009 and 2011 and Djokovic with Serbia in 2010.

But throw a challenge in his way, and you can rarely rule him out of succeeding, and now may be the time for Federer to put the finishing touches on to an incredibly successful career.

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Topics:
Tennis
Roger Federer

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