GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: When Switzerland takes on Kazakhstan this weekend in the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas thoughts of their last meeting are expected to be a distant memory.
In 2010 the Swiss lost 5-0 in Astana but now, in the Palexpo in Geneva, the home side is at full strength and being led by Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer.
But in Davis Cup anything can happen; rankings go out the stadium door because the players are battling for their teams and their nation. The pressure of playing for more than just yourself creates an entirely different scenario.
The Kazakhs, a young nation in the annals of Davis Cup history, are using that in their approach to playing a reigning Grand Slam winner and a tennis legend.
“Ranking-wise Davis Cup has never been that kind of tournament where favourites play a big role,” said Kazakh captain Dias Doskarayev. “Of course there are favourites but it’s a matter of the team’s spirit. Our team has shown in the last five years that it’s a good team and we can play against anyone and anything may happen.”
The tie will open with Australian Open winner Wawrinka, who is playing No. 1 for Switzerland, against Andrey Golubev and then Roger Federer plays the Kazakh No. 1 Mikhail Kukushkin.
The Swiss are banking on Wawrinka and Federer for all three days. In the doubles they will take on Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Evgeny Korolev. The reverse singles on the final day has Wawrinka first up against Kukushkin with Federer and Golubev closing out the series.
“I think it can feel strange for everybody when you have Roger on the team and he is No. 2 in the tie,’ said Wawrinka. “It’s just because I played so well at the beginning of the season winning my first Grand Slam – I know that’s my ranking and I deserve it because I’m playing really good and I’m happy with that.
“Roger is back playing good tennis, he is confident, and I’m sure he’ll play amazing tennis the rest of the year, so I’m sure it’s going to be tough to stay No. 1, but that’s not my goal. My goal is to play well and make some great results and to win the tie.”
The Palexpo is pretty much sold out and the noise from 15,000 plus fans with cowbells adding to the atmosphere is going to make for a thrilling weekend in Geneva. No doubt the noise that will be created is sure to drown out the sound of commercial airliners taking off from the international airport that is just barely a stone’s throw from the venue.
Kukushkin said: “I’m so excited playing the Swiss in Geneva; huge stadium, huge crowd, playing Roger and Stan. It’s a huge experience but of course I’m so nervous of playing the legend. It’s a match I will remember all my life.”
That pretty much sums up what Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is all about.
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) v Andrey Golubev (KAZ)
R2: Roger Federer (SUI) v Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)
R3: Roger Federer/Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) v Evgeny Korolev/Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ)
R4: Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) v Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)
R5: Roger Federer (SUI) v Andrey Golubev (KAZ)
Captain Dias Doskarayev (KAZ) - 03/04/2014
Andrey Golubev (KAZ) - 04/04/2014
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) - 03/04/2014
Evgeny Korolev/Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ) - 03/04/2014
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) - 03/04/2014
Captain Severin Luthin (SUI) - 03/04/2014
Roger Federer/Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) - 03/04/2014