AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS: Swiss No. 1 Roger Federer will take on Dutch No. 2 Thiemo de Bakker in the first rubber of a tie that will determine which of the two countries competes in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group next year.
The second rubber on Friday will see Dutch No. 1 Robin Haase pitted against Stanislas Wawrinka. On Saturday, Wawrinka and Federer team up against Haase and Dutch doubles specialist Jean-Julien Rojer.
Federer will hope to eradicate his singles loss to John Isner in his last Davis Cup outing in February, which saw the Swiss team surprisingly crash out at home in Fribourg against the USA 5-0.
Federer acknowledged that he is the overwhelming favourite in all of this weekend’s ties, but he said he didn’t underestimate anyone, certainly not on the outside clay court the Dutch opted for with Federer in mind.
"Obviously we’ve been on faster courts for sometime now," the world No. 1 said. "Now we’re looking at a very slow clay court, outdoors, potentially in cold conditions. It’s a matter of getting through and not losing, me being the overwhelming favourite in most of the matches."
His opponent on Friday, Thiemo de Bakker, said he was excited to be playing Federer for the first time: "He’s obviously one of the best players in history, maybe the best, but I’m looking forward to it."
Will he be adapting his game in order to give himself a fighting chance? "For sure I have to take some risks," said de Bakker. "Because what else can you do? At least I’ll try to make him work as hard as possible for it." Last week, de Bakker won a Challenger tournament on clay in the Netherlands. "I’m hitting the ball OK," he added. "So I have some confidence."
In Friday’s second rubber, Haase will play Wawrinka, against whom he has a 0-5 losing record. However, Haase stressed that four of those matches had been extremely close. "In our last match [in the Rome-1000 tournament this spring], I was within two points of the win. So I think it will be a good match. And here, playing in a full stadium, it’ll be interesting."
If he played his own game well enough, "I can beat almost everybody", Haase said. So what will he have to come up with against Federer, on Sunday? The very best version of his own game, he said.
"I think that everyone always plays their own game, unless someone else is so good that you have to defend. But say you’re a serve and volley player and you play Roger, you won’t be playing from the baseline. You’ll have to try and beat him with your game. If I change my game, I won’t be used to it, so I will make more mistakes."
Earlier this week, when the news came out that Federer would play the tie, Haase put the Dutch chances of winning the tie at 10 percent. Dutch captain Jan Siemerink said he didn’t agree with his No. 1. "There is always a chance of beating the Swiss with Federer. Maybe with the crowd behind us, they can push our guys to the limit and [chances] might even up a little," the captain said.
Swiss captain Severin Luthi said that he was relieved that his number one decided to come and play in Amsterdam. "We only have two players in the top hundred, so I was happy he could come."
Obviously his team were now the favourites to win the tie. But the Swiss captain said he was expecting a tough and long weekend on an outdoors clay court - possibly made even longer, considering the weather forecast: a 75 percent chance of rain on Friday.
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Thiemo de Bakker (NED) v Roger Federer (SUI)
R2: Robin Haase (NED) v Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
R3: Robin Haase / Jean-Julien Rojer (NED) v Roger Federer / Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
R4: Robin Haase (NED) v Roger Federer (SUI)
R5: Thiemo de Bakker (NED) v Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
Follow this tie as it happens: Live scores or Watch Live
Roger Federer (SUI) - 13/09/2012
Captain Severin Luthi (SUI) - 13/09/2012
Robin Haase (NED) - 13/09/2012
Thiemo de Bakker (NED) - 13/09/2012
Captain Jan Siemerink (NED) - 13/09/2012