GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Switzerland ended the opening day of its Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinal on equal terms with Kazakhstan thanks to Roger Federer and much to the relief of the 15,000-plus fans.
The majority of people believed this was going to be like taking a leisurely sail on Lake Geneva, instead the waters turned choppy and the Swiss were fighting to keep their chances alive. What this has highlighted yet again is that in Davis Cup anything is possible.
Stanislas Wawrinka admitted to feeling the pressure in the first rubber when he played Andrey Golubev. The Kazakh player gave his side the first point of the weekend with a 76(5) 62 36 76(5) victory.
However, Federer then got the crowd going. The noise level went up five notches and it drowned out pretty much everything else. Still, Federer had to dig deep, especially in the first set against Mikhail Kukushkin before asserting his dominance and closed out the match 64 64 62.
“Definitely it’s an advantage and good for me not to waste any energy because I do see myself playing all three days, even though I play second on Sunday,” said Federer.
“Clearly I trust Stan that he’s going to be fit and healthy and fighting till the very end. It was unfortunate today for his match but I think Golubev played really a smart and a good match in good indoor conditions for him.
“Now we’re just going to start all over again, really. That’s what I told Stan. The weekend has only just started. There’s no drama and that’s how I saw it going into my singles match.”
The Kazakh captain Dias Doskarayev was naturally proud of his two players. Golubev put in such a great effort against Wawrinka and with Kukushkin, even though he lost to Federer he still played a tight couple of sets.
“If I had been told it would be 1-1 before we started, I would have taken that anytime against Switzerland,” said Doskarayev. “It was very high quality tennis from both our guys, no regrets.
"I cannot blame Misha (Kukushkin) for losing because he didn’t do this or that, he gave his best out on the court. He fought till the end and he just happened to play against Federer who is a legend and who played clutch points, served well and played good defence, changing up the speed with slices and top spins.
“I think it was a good first day for us and good that Andrey played well. He showed for another time he can beat top ten players likes he’s done in Davis Cup and it’s just a matter of consistency of results that he belongs to the top 20. He has to believe he belongs and he can hang with the guys. I think he showed very good quality tennis especially on big points and he kept his nerves.
“Obviously he made Stan a bit nervous but that’s Davis Cup and emotions are there and I’m happy it worked out for us in the first match.”
The frustrations in Wawrinka’s game really showed when he was unable to put pressure on Golubev. The Swiss had some break point chances but couldn’t penetrate on a consistent basis and the more that happened the more Wawrinka became irritated. Playing in front of fans that expect him to overcome such situations probably did not help his cause.
“There is always a lot of pressure when you play at home and for your country but that’s part of our game and you have to deal with that,” said Wawrinka. “Today I didn’t play so well but I’m expecting to play better tomorrow in the doubles, and if I have to play on Sunday again.
“Sure I’m disappointed with myself but I have to give credit to Golubev, he was really playing good and he was aggressive. I didn’t play so well. I was expecting more mistakes (from him) and I was not aggressive enough with my game. I’m disappointed with the loss but I need to accept it and be ready for the rest of the weekend.”
Golubev played such a calm match. He said he was nervous in the beginning but his solid serving helped him calm down and keep concentrated and as he put it: “I did good”.
The combinations for the doubles rubber are still up in the air but at this point the Swiss are expected to stick with Federer and Wawrinka but the Kazakhs could replace Aleksandr Nedovyesov or Evgeny Korolov with Golubev.
Follow this tie as it happens: Live Scores or Watch Live
Captain Dias Doskarayev (KAZ) - 04/04/2014
Roger Federer (SUI) - 04/04/2014
Captain Severin Luthi (SUI) - 04/04/2014
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) - 04/04/2014
Andrey Golubev (KAZ) - 04/04/2014