The first day of the prestigious Davis Cup final between hosts France and Switzerland at the state-of-the-art Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, where a crowd of over 27000 was privy to some truly engrossing and memorable tennis action. While such attendance can be called a no-crowd for football matches, the number of tennis enthusiasts, who saw the two singles matches on Friday, broke the record for attendance in an officially sanctioned tennis match. The two nations shared the spoils on the first day with scores level 1-1. In the tie-opener, Switzerland began by taking an early lead, when world no.4, Stanislas Wawrinka defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. But the show stealer and real entertainer on first day was Gael Monfils, who played the best tennis of his life in steamrolling the great Roger Federer in straight sets 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. Federer’s loss was a big blow to the Swiss chances in Davis Cup as the French have a better doubles team for the Saturday’s match. With two reverse singles scheduled for Sunday, Federer must get back to top fitness in his next match against Tsonga. Wawrinka may also have a tough time against the highly motivated Monfils. In summary, France, the nine times former Davis Cup champions ended the first day as favorites.
In the inaugural match of the tie, Wawrinka displayed a seamless performance against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Swiss did not have any problem switching to clay, as he commanded several rallies with deep groundstrokes and superb retrievals. Playing a powerful game in the first set, the Swiss star reeled out five games in a row to win the set 6-1 in 27 minutes. But suddenly, Tsonga bounced back in the second set beginning with a hard-fought first game in which he was down two break points on his serve. But once he held his serve, he was able to push Wawrinka on the back foot. At this point, one spectator shouted “Crybaby, cry”, to mimic Mirka Federer, who yelled similarly at Wawrinka during ATP semifinal against Federer. Wawrinka showed no reaction but his game dropped from its level. Serving a lot better, Tsonga began to pressurize Wawrinka, who lost a game with a double fault. The Frenchman produced 16 winners and claimed the second set 6-3. With set scores level, Wawrinka composed himself and raised his game several notches upwards. In the third set, the Swiss man came up with an awesome display of power tennis to which Tsonga could scarcely respond. Tsonga showed his nerves in the sixth game of the third set by committing three consecutive unforced errors with a double fault included. He lost the game and Wawrinka rode roughshod over his French opponent. After easily taking the third set 6-3, Wawrinka broke Tsonga’s service once more at the start of the fourth set and wasted no further time in the fourth set to finish it at 6-2 to make a great start for Switzerland.
However, in the other singles, Roger Federer failed to consolidate on Wawrinka’s good work. Playing against the legend, the Frenchman Gael Monfils benefitted from Federer’s lack of fitness and completely outplayed the world’s no.2 tennis player with a straight-sets victory. With curtailed movements on the court, Federer showed the effect of his back injury against Monfils, who scored 100% of his first service points and allowed no leeway to Federer. Monfils took the first set 6-1 with utmost ease and the story in the second set was no different except the score line of 6-4. The inspired Monfils kept Federer firmly under check with the Swiss committing a lot many unforced errors. Monfils totally dominated one of the game’s best players after realizing that Federer could not move freely. The French star controlled his shots in a way that made retrievals a big issue for Federer. With crowd cheering for the Frenchman, Monfils ended the match by taking the third set, 6-3. It was an outstanding performance by Monfils, who had looked a bit nervous as he entered the stadium but such those emotions evaporated as the match progressed.