Federer eager to win elusive Davis Cup for Switzerland


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There are not many titles that have eluded Roger Federer during his remarkable career and the 17-times Grand Slam champion has an outstanding chance in the coming weeks to fill the most significant gap in his trophy cabinet. Switzerland have never won the Davis Cup but Federer and his fellow countrymen are within two victories of claiming the trophy for the first time.

With Federer joining forces with the Australian Open champion, Stanislas Wawrinka, the Swiss are the clear favourites to beat Italy in front of sell-out crowds of 18,500 in the Palexpo exhibition centre in Geneva from Friday to Sunday this weekend. At stake will be a place in the final in November against France or the Czech Republic, who meet at Roland Garros over the same days.

Switzerland have reached the final only once before, in 1992, when Jakob Hlasek and Marc Rosset found themselves overpowered  by a strong United States team. Andre Agassi and Jim Courier were the Americans’ singles players while Pete Sampras and John McEnroe played doubles.

For Federer this weekend’s tie will be a chance to erase the memory of the only previous Davis Cup semi-final in which he has played. Lleyton Hewitt secured the winning rubber for Australia in Melbourne in 2003 when he came back from two sets and 5-3 down to beat Federer, who left Rod Laver Arena in tears.

Federer has been selective in his Davis Cup appearances in subsequent years and the Swiss had not won a World Group tie since 2004  until they met Serbia earlier this year.

“We have the opportunity to write history,” Federer told the Davis Cup’s official website yesterday. “With the season that Stan and I have had I think we are ready for the big occasion and we’re not going to shy away from it. We’re going to embrace it. I’m pretty confident we’re going to play a big weekend.”

Federer will play today’s opening rubber against Simone Bolelli, who has been preferred to Andreas Seppi. Fabio Fognini, the Italian  No 1, will meet Wawrinka in the day’s second rubber.

Federer and Wawrinka are likely to play in tomorrow’s doubles, while Italy, who beat Britain 3-2 in the quarter-finals in April, could choose between Fognini, Bolelli, Seppi and Paolo Lorenzi. The reverse singles are on Sunday.

Arnaud Clément, the captain of the French team, sprang a minor surprise when he named Richard Gasquet as his second singles player behind Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tomas Berdych leads the Czech team, in which Lukas Rosol has been chosen as the No 2 singles player in preference to Radek Stepanek. The nominated doubles pairs are Monfils and Julien Benneteau for France and Stepanek and Jiri Vesely for the Czechs.

The Czech Republic are attempting to win the title for the third year in a row, having beaten Spain and Serbia in the last two finals. Berdych missed the quarter-final victory over Japan earlier  this year but the Czechs are back at full strength for  the visit to the home of the French Open.