Disunity puts pressure on Federer and Wawrinka ahead of Davis Cup final

Further details of post-match confrontation emerge

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The Independent Online

So much for team unity. Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, on whom Switzerland’s hopes of victory in this weekend’s Davis Cup final against France largely depend, both travelled to Lille from London yesterday – but by different routes.

In perhaps a symbolic illustration of their respective lifestyles, Federer travelled by private jet while Wawrinka took the train.

The trip might have been a chance to show that there was no lasting rift between the two following their falling-out at the O2 Arena on Saturday night after their semi-final at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, but instead they went their separate ways. Severin Luthi, who is Switzerland’s Davis Cup captain but is also a member of Federer’s coaching team, accompanied Wawrinka on Eurostar, perhaps in the hope of smoothing the waters with the world No 4.

Further details of the post-match confrontation between the players emerged yesterday. Some reports suggested they had argued for 10 minutes in a gym at the O2 Arena, having been ushered in there by officials as tempers flared. Some courtside witnesses said it had followed a clash between Wawrinka and Federer’s wife, Mirka, towards the end of their marathon match. The entourages sit alongside the court at the O2 Arena.

According to the Tribune de Genève, Wawrinka asked Mirka to stop making distracting comments between his first and second serves. The Swiss publication reported that Mirka had told Wawrinka in reply: “Cry, baby, cry.” Wawrinka complained to Cédric Mourier, the umpire, about the distractions, but was told: “Not now, Stan.”

A French television station also reported that Wawrinka had been heard to complain: “She did the same thing at Wimbledon.” Federer beat Wawrinka in the quarter-finals at the All England Club this summer.

Nevertheless, when Wawrinka was asked in his post-match press conference on Saturday about what had happened, he replied: “Not much. Nothing special. Tense match. It’s never easy.”

Over the years Federer and Wawrinka have both talked frequently about their friendship. When a reporter asked them 11 days ago, at separate press conferences, which player they would choose as a dinner companion, they nominated each other.

However, there have been tensions between the two men in the past, which have sometimes surfaced at Davis Cup matches. Federer, who faces a race against time to be fit for Friday’s opening matches after a recurrence of his back problems forced him to withdraw from Sunday’s final, made critical comments about Wawrinka’s performance against the United States two years ago.

Twelve months later Wawrinka talked about Federer’s decision to miss a tie against the Czech Republic. “Roger has been saying for years that he wants to play the Davis Cup and it is important, but that’s apparently not the case,” Wawrinka said at the time. “It’s a shame how he interprets things to suit his own opinion. Davis Cup is not a priority for him at the moment.”

The teams will practise for the first time today at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, where the final is being held on a clay court. The French team – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gaël Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau – arrived in Lille on Sunday. They practised yesterday near Lille alongside Switzerland’s Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer.