17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer will officially begin the clay court portion of his season on Friday afternoon, as he is scheduled to take part in the second tie on Day 1 of the Switzerland vs Kazakhstan Davis Cup quarter-final when he squares off against Mikhail Kukushkin. This marks the second time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Federer leading the head-to-head series 1-0.
World No. 4 Roger Federer has been a resurgent force in 2014, reaching three separate finals, while winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February. While his poor serving failed him in his surprise upset against Nishikori in Miami, he is looking to rebound with a strong showing on home turf against an opponent ranked 52 spots below him. As long as Federer is able to serve comfortably and adjust to the clay surface, he should have no trouble dictating the pace during the match.
The Swiss No. 2 has never won a Davis Cup title – a feat he is looking to accomplish before the end of his career.
World No. 56 Mikhail Kukushkin has managed a successful return from injury, as he rose up from No. 324 back in June, 2013 to his current ranking, which is not far below his career best. He managed to reach the third round at Indian Wells before falling short to Feliciano Lopez. He would follow up with a first round exit in Miami to bring his overall record this season to 4-8.
This marks the second time these two competitors will meet on the professional tour, with Federer leading the series 1-0. The Swiss No. 2’s victory took place at the Wimbledon Championships, where he defeated Kukushkin 7-6(2) 6-4 6-2. He will be looking for another straight sets victory, this time on the clay courts of his native Switzerland – the courts that he grew up performing on.
Prediction: Roger Federer in Straight Sets