You would never have guessed they had been at loggerheads five days earlier. As Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka sat next to one another here today at the draw for this weekend’s Davis Cup final, the two Swiss players chatted and laughed like the old friends that they are
Perhaps the two men felt more at ease in the absence of the woman who had sparked their confrontation at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals last Saturday. Mirka, Federer’s wife, whose “cry-baby” taunt had so infuriated Wawrinka during his defeat in their semi-final in London, is understood to have decided to miss this weekend’s final here between Switzerland and France.
As they join forces in an attempt to give Switzerland their first victory in the Davis Cup, Federer and Wawrinka are both insisting their fall-out was simply a heat-of-the-moment argument.
For Federer, who has been named to play against Gaël Monfils tomorrow despite the back injury that forced him to withdraw from Sunday’s final at the O2 Arena, it is a golden opportunity to get his hands on the biggest jewel missing from his glittering crown. He is also aware of the potential significance of winning the trophy in this city, where he won his first tournament as a junior.
Nevertheless, the 17-times Grand Slam champion has been playing down the occasion. When asked what he remembered of the only previous occasion when his country played in a Davis Cup final – he was aged 11 when Switzerland lost to the United States in 1992 – Federer said his recollection was “very minimal”.
In contrast he said he could remember exactly where he had been when Switzerland’s Marc Rosset won the Olympic gold medal in the same year.
As for whether this weekend is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, Federer said: “Of course it would be very special to win here, but ‘once in a lifetime’? I don’t know. There’s so much more than tennis in life.”
Perhaps Federer is trying to shield himself and his colleagues from the pressures of playing in front of what is likely to be the noisiest crowd they have ever faced. The tie is being played on a clay court which was constructed this week inside the Stade Pierre Mauroy, a state-of-the-art arena which staged a moto-cross event last weekend and is the home of the city’s football club.
The 27,600 tickets for each of the tie’s three days quickly sold out. No country gives a higher profile to the Davis Cup than France and the noise under the closed roof could be intimidating.
The outcome could well depend on Federer’s fitness. The 33-year-old was not giving much away today, though he said his back was feeling better than it had at the start of the week.
Now that the draw has been made, the Swiss captain, Severin Luthi, cannot bring any new players into his squad, though Federer could still be replaced by one of the two other members. However, given that the men concerned are Marco Chiudinelli (world No 212) and Michael Lammer (world No 508), Luthi is clearly desperate for Federer to play.
Wawrinka talked about being “destroyed” by his defeat to Federer in the World Tour Finals last weekend, though he insisted he had recovered well. “It was tough to lose against Roger after I had four match points, but I took a lot of positives from that week,” he said. “I’m feeling great from London. I got a lot of confidence from there.
“I’m playing really well. I’ve had five days here to change surface, to play on clay. I did what I could here with some good practice. I’m feeling ready for the weekend.”Reuse content