Following a pivotal start to their historic Davis Cup final, the Swiss team was all but surprised when Roger Federer failed to win the second rubber against local cult hero Gael Monfils.
After withdrawing from last week’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals showdown against Novak Djokovic with a back injury, many were worried that the Swiss legend would be unable to spearhead the Swiss team to their first team title.
However, on Wednesday afternoon, Federer appeared on court in Lille prepared to practice – a clear sign that he felt healthy enough to perform. Sadly, this did not help him on Friday afternoon, as his lethargic movement was no match for Monfils’ swashbuckling brilliance on this particular occasion.
“I’ll definitely make myself available if I feel that I can play proper tennis,” said Federer. “I started to feel better as the match went on. That’s very encouraging, I must say. I would think that I’m going to get better as the weekend goes on. I hope I’ll be fine tonight and tomorrow morning to give maximum possibilities for Severin and back up Stan and the rest of the team.”
While it was a lackluster performance from Federer, it was contrasted by a groundbreaking showing from Monfils, who appeared to be a man possessed and determined to grasp victory firmly with both hands.
Finally, after several failed attempts in 2014, it was third time lucky for the dazzling Frenchman.
“That definitely [is] one of the top three matches in my life,” said Monfils. “To be honest, I was very nervous in the beginning. For sure when Jo lost, it’s an extra pressure because we need to get back on the road to win the title.
“Then, I think I like that atmosphere, the big court. The crowd was very good. They helped me a lot, gave me a lot of energy. At the end [it] helped me a lot because I went for my shots, which made me serve big [and hit] big forehands. “
Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau are scheduled to play Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer in the doubles rubber on Saturday. However, there is nothing stopping Swiss captain Severin Luthi from replacing them with Federer and Wawrinka to try and gain an edge.