It wasn’t very pleasant of Mirka Federer to call Wawrinka a crybaby. It was in bad taste as the spat forced Switzerland’s no.1 and no.2 players on a war of words. Besides the back problem, if there was any, the ugly intervention by Federer’s wife during the semifinal between the Swiss duo became another reason for Federer’s withdrawal from the final of the Barclays ATP World Tour final against Djokovic. But more importantly, the two Swiss guys were to play together on the same side against France in the Davis Cup final at Lille in a few days time. In his entire tennis career, Roger Federer has kept himself above the vulgar pettiness, associated with several players of past and present. The timing of the incident created a bigger problem because; Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer are regarded as friends and closest mates on the ATP circuit and they had the Davis Cup final in their minds for some time. The sooner the feeling of rift goes away, the better. They have to leave the incident behind them at the earliest. On his part, Federer tried to bring in a sense of camaraderie by posting a picture on twitter, showing the two of them in good spirits alongside captain Severin Lüthi in the Swiss team room yesterday. The world’s greatest tennis player has a reputation of endless generosity that has brought him unconditional support on the tennis courts around the world. To announce his withdrawal from the final against Djokovic, the great man appeared himself rather than allow issuance of an official announcement by any other means. And while he played in London, he elicited more cheers from the crowd than Andy Murray! Only Federer had the ability to transform North Greenwich spectators to those resembling in Basel. Now just a day remain before the Davis Cup final gets underway in France and this is the only tennis trophy that doesn’t have the name Roger Federer inscribed on it.
The Davis Cup matches begin on November 21 with two men’s singles. In the first match, world no.4 Stanislas Wawrinka will play against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. This is expected to be a close battle with Tsonga holding a 3-2 record against Wawrinka. Since French players are most accustomed to playing on indoor clay, Wawrinka may be a slightly under pressure. The second singles match will feature Roger Federer and the temperamental Gael Monfils. It could also be a hot match with Federer suffering from his back problems and Monfils’ ability to last out on long matches. In the US open, Monfils had lost to Federer in five sets. But that was not clay and therefore, Monfils could turn out to be different in Lille. The Swiss captain Severin Luthi has announced that Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer will play the doubles match on Saturday against Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet but he still has the option of changing the line-up until one hour before the start of the match. In the reverse singles on Sunday, Federer will take on Tsonga while Monfils will play Wawrinka.
The 17-time grand slam champion Federer is keen to win the maiden title for his country despite withdrawing from the Barclays ATP World Tour final due to back problems against Novak Djokovic in London last Sunday. However, after missing out on Tuesday and Wednesday, he was back to training on Thursday at Lille’s Pierre Mauroy stadium, where Davis Cup final will begin on indoor clay. The stadium has a capacity of 27,000 and all seats are already sold out. Federer felt alright after the training session and said that things have been going well with him at the moment.
The French lead the head to head count 10-2 although the two nations haven’t played since 2004. Now the Swiss are enjoying their tennis golden era with Federer and Wawrinka are rated far ahead of Tsonga and Monfils in ATP rankings. Moreover the motivational factor is high for Switzerland with Federer looking to win the only title that he has not won in his illustrious career. Although the off-court events have dominated the build up to the Davis Cup Final, it is expected that Federer and Wawrinka will resolve their personal differences in preference to the national honor.