Federer hands Switzerland first Davis Cup title

Roger Federer handed Switzerland a historic first Davis Cup title after a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 demolition of Richard Gasquet in the first reverse singles sealed a 3-1 victory for the visitors against France in the 2014 Davis Cup Final.

In front of a new world record crowd of 27,448 in Lille’s Stade Pierre Mauroy, the 17-time Grand Slam champion was in total control of a match that lasted just one hour and 42 minutes. The result put his country in the history books as just the 14th nation to win the Davis Cup trophy in the competition’s 115-year history.

Federer’s straight-sets win over Gasquet followed his victory with world No. 4 Stan Wawrinka in Saturday’s doubles, in which they defeated Gasquet and Julien Benneteau 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 to put the visitors 2-1 up ahead of the last day.

On Friday Wawrinka had scored the first point for the Swiss with a four-set win against Tsonga, but Monfils made it 1-1 for France with a straight-sets defeat of Federer.

Federer’s performance on Sunday banished thoughts of that inglorious loss on the opening day and by lifting the Davis Cup trophy with his country the world No. 2 has plugged one of the few remaining holes in his resume.

“I’m unbelievably happy. Amazing feeling to be celebrating with my friends,” said Federer. “Just a great match, great atmosphere. It was a beautiful weekend for tennis.”

“We fought hard for it, I’ve been playing this game for almost 15 years now and clearly I’ve never come as close as this last weekend. I’m happy I was able to stay calm and play a good match when I had to and I’m happy for all the guys on the team.”

Federer was quick to pay tribute to teammate Wawrinka’s vital role in Switzerland’s triumph, and to the medical team that helped him recover from the back injury that last week threatened to derail his Davis Cup campaign. “Everybody worked incredibly hard to get me match ready, and Stan has put in so much effort over the years and played an unbelievable weekend, and that’s what gave me the opportunity today. I’m very much aware of that and this one’s for the boys. This is not for me, this is for them.”

It was a devastating result for France, with captain Arnaud Clement unable to play his No. 1 player Tsonga in the crunch encounter, relying instead on the less experienced services of world No. 26 Gasquet, playing in his first live reverse singles rubber since 2007 and in possession of a 2-12 losing record against Federer. As Clement explained later, Tsonga had suffered a recurrence of an arm injury during his match on Friday which left him unable to take any further part in the Davis Cup Final.

Federer was on the attack from the start on Sunday while Gasquet was never able to make any impression on his Swiss opponent’s serve.

The Swiss broke Gasquet in the third game of the first set and had chances to go a double break up in the Frenchman’s next two service games, but Gasquet withstood the pressure before Federer served out the set in 44 minutes, sealing an impressive love service game with a cross court forehand winner.

With the cowbells in the vast converted football stadium clanging ever louder, Federer swiftly took first blood in the second set when Gasquet missed a backhand return. Although Gasquet held his own serve with ease he was still getting few chances in Federer’s service games and with the match racing away from the hosts, Federer struck again, two stunning returns on Gasquet’s serve helping him to a 5-2 lead. A game later Federer had the second set, clinched with a drop shot that left his opponent standing dazed at the back of the court.

With their man two sets down, the French crowd did their best to lift Gasquet and there were signs that he was fighting back early in the third set: he withstood four break points on his serve in the opening game, and having only won seven points on Federer’s serve through the first two sets, posed more of a threat in the fouth game, taking the 17-time Grand Slam champion to deuce for the first time in the match. But still Gasquet was unable to impose himself in that crucial fourth game.

Gasquet and France’s fate was effectively sealed in the very next game, in which a superb volley from Federer helped him to secure the break. Gasquet’s serve buckled under the pressure again two games later, and Federer secured Switzerland’s historic triumph by serving out to love, a neat drop shot providing the cue for Federer to drop to his knees in celebration as his jubilant teammates rushed onto the court.

“It's an amazing feeling. The best,” said Wawrinka. “We all know how it's great to watch such an amazing player when he's playing good tennis.”

“He was playing fast. He was very focused and making very few mistakes. I was not even able to have a break point,” said Gasquet. “It was difficult for me to give him problems. We are all disappointed. I would have liked to do more for the team because the crowd was ready, ready to support me to the end.  In that situation, the only thing you want to do is play a fourth or fifth set just to please the crowd.”

Switzerland becomes the first new nation to have its name etched on the historic Davis Cup trophy since Serbia in 2010.

As well as adding something new to his list of glittering achievements, Federer set a new record on Sunday as the most successful Swiss player in the history of Davis Cup. His defeat of Gasquet was his 50th victory in the competition, moving him past Jakob Hlasek for most total wins in the competition.

Wawrinka, meanwhile, becomes the first person since Andre Agassi in 1992 to win his maiden Grand Slam title and lift his first Davis Cup trophy in the same year.

For France, captain Clement remains in the hunt for a tenth Davis Cup title. “Right now it's tough. It's difficult to accept that loss for all of us, for the players, for the staff, and also for the fans. They believed we could win. The quality of great champions is to be able to bounce back, to take the lessons and come back very strongly.”

Date: 23rd November 2014, Source: Davis Cup


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