GENEVA, SWITZERLAND:In a stunning comeback on a weekend that epitomised the brilliance of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, Switzerland became the final nation to secure a place in the semifinals of the competition to be played in September. Switzerland came back from 2-1 down after the doubles rubber to win the two reverse singles on the final day.
After disappointing results the first two days Stanislas Wawrinka rallied from a set down to defeat Mikhail Kukushkin 67(4) 64 64 64 and then Roger Federer sealed the tie with a 76(0) 62 63 victory over Andrey Golubev.
“It’s great. I was hoping so much I was going to get a chance to play and not just watch Stan play,” said Federer. “I got the opportunity and I’m happy I lived up to the hype and the expectations, and I was able to get the boys through so very happy for them.
“I was confident but not silly confident but respectful confident towards the opponent (we could do it). I knew Stan was going to play better than Friday and I thought as well that he was going to do a better job with rhythm and against the type of player Kukushkin was, he’d find a way. That’s what happened. It was tough for him for a long time.
“Then personally for me, I just felt I was playing such great tennis the last six months that I would find a way as well and I did. It’s a relief but it was a great feeling.”
The score line did hide the fact that the first set was close. Federer had a service break but credit to Golubev for striking back. However, when they did get to the tiebreak it was one-way traffic as Federer picked up his aggressive play with an immediate mini-break. He never looked back and was like being in a one man race as he won the breaker without dropping a point.
Golubev was trying so hard to stay in touch with Federer but it was clear that the “Great One” was making it tougher and tougher for the Kazakh. Some of the returns he was playing in front of the incredibly loud partisan, but respectful, crowd were wonderful to watch.
He went up 4-2 when Golubev sent a forehand wide down the line and the fans erupted yet again with approval. Two games later he broke for the second set with the set point winner being vintage Federer. From the deuce corner of the court he blitzed a forehand crosscourt passing shot - which Golubev could only watch speed past him to land in - and as part of the follow through motion of that stroke he jogged to the courtside bench
If it had not been for Wawrinka turning his tennis around it would have been such a different landscape. After losing the first set he didn’t seem as down as he was on the Friday. He knew that he was not playing badly and he just had to remain calm.
“I think I was doing the right thing,” said Wawrinka even though he lost that first set. “I was playing better than him and he had to play at his best, and I knew if I would keep the same level it would be difficult for him to play a five set match like this and that’s what happened.
“I started to play even more aggressive, make more winners, come to the net and I took my chances when I had them at the end. I am really happy with the match.”
The support for Wawrinka helped lift him incredibly and the atmosphere was something special.
Wawrinka said: “I had two difficult days losing to Golubev, losing the doubles; I was not playing my best tennis but I’m really happy with my level today. I went for it and I took that match. It was a tough match, he was playing really good, so I’m happy with myself and my game.”
Both Kukushkin and Golubev gave it their best but they ran into two players who were able to lift to greater levels with their experience but this weekend has opened the eyes of the Kazakhs and it allowed them to believe they can stand alongside some of the most powerful tennis nations in the world.
“It was a fantastic weekend and I’m very proud of our team and everyone involved in the team, not just the players,” said Captain Dias Doskarayev. “Overall it was fantastic no matter how the result went. We ended up losing but the score doesn’t matter, the fact that we hung in and gave a battle. This weekend will have a lasting effect.
“Even though we lost we accomplished something huge. Of course it will take time to sink in but we can find out that we can develop tennis more. We can get our guys on TV and in interviews and people will find out more about tennis and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The Swiss now swing their attention to hosting Italy in the semifinals. Where it will be played remains to be seen but Federer suggested he’d be very happy to have it at the same arena.
“We’re in Switzerland, we don’t have too many arenas and halls, this is all temporary but it’s very special,” said Federer. “The history of the matches being played here, I hope we can do this one again.”
Captain Severin Luthi (SUI) - 04/06/14
Roger Federer (SUI) - 06/04/14
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) - 06/04/2014
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) - 06/04/2014