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15 September 2012

Surprise win keeps Dutch in hunt



  • Michiel de Hoog

Photo: Henk KosterJean-Julien Rojer and Robin Haase (NED)

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS: Jean Julien Rojer and Robin Haase recorded a memorable 64 62 57 63 win for the Netherlands against Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka to keep the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas tie against Switzerland alive.

Haase now faces the challenge of a live fourth rubber against Federer on Sunday. Making a bid for the understatement of the weekend, Dutch captain Jan Siemerink said that “lots of questions will be asked of Robin tomorrow. But first, we want to be happy with this win.” Haase added: “And for a good reason. It’s not as if these guys can’t play doubles. They are the Olympics doubles champions of Beijing.”

 For doubles specialist Rojer, it was one the biggest wins of his career. “Possibly – yes, because you face a couple of big names, one of them the No. 1 in the world. But it was also [a good win] because it was important to win to make Sunday relevant.”

Federer gave the Dutch pair credit for playing “a clean doubles”. As for himself, Federer thought that his returns were below par in sets one and two in particular. “And that translates into mistakes at the net as well,” he admitted.

The first set saw the Swiss seeking out Rojer as their prime target, but the doubles specialist proved that he is just that - a specialist – with some nifty volleying, taking advantage of every high Swiss return of serve. The Dutch finished off a break of Wawrinka’s serve at 4 all to take the first set 64.

With the crowd now firmly behind them, Rojer and Haase raced to a 4-0 lead in the second set with some impressive returns of serve. In their own service games they didn’t give the Swiss a look in. Wawrinka hit out at the net with his racket in frustration, as he and Federer conceded the second set 62. People in the crowd were starting to exchange baffled looks: what was happening here? It all seemed a bit too easy.

Wawrinka and Federer switched sides for the third set, with Federer now returning from the ad court. For this reason or another, the Swiss got more and better returns of serve into play and made the Dutch work harder. At 6-5 Federer and Wawrinka got their first set point, and they took it when Rojer played an angled drop volley, Federer not only did well to get to it, he also pushed his crosscourt backhand dig deep into Rojer’s court, forcing the error: 75.

It might have served as a classic example of a turning point in the match, but it wasn’t, as the Dutch maintained their intensity. “I was very happy with the mental side of it,” Rojer said. “We talked about going for our shots when we had the chance before the match. We wanted to play very aggressively.” And so they did, breaking the Federer serve at 3 all in the fourth and adding a second break at 53 to win set and match after Federer missed a makeable forehand volley.

To Federer, the doubles loss made Wawrinka’s win against Haase on Friday even more important in retrospect. “Credit to Stan for that difficult win. It means we are still up, 2-1, and we’re full of confidence for tomorrow.”

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    • Jean-Julien Rojer and Robin Haase (NED)Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
    • Jean-Julien Rojer (NED) with captain Jan SiemerinkRoger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
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    Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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