The opening rubber on Friday afternoon’s highly anticipated opening day of the Davis Cup final will feature Stan Wawrinka, a player who rushed over from the World Tour Finals to prepare for the event, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who has been focused solely on the tournament over the past few weeks. Of their previous five meetings, Tsonga leads the head to head series 3-2. However, the two competitors are 2-2 on clay and have not crossed paths throughout the 2014 season.
Stan Wawrinka’s turbulent run through the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals ended in a heartwrenching finish in his all-Swiss semi-final against Roger Federer, where he failed to convert four match points and eventually surrendered the encounter to his Davis Cup teammate.
“For me, for sure it was tough to lose against Roger with four match points,” said Wawrinka. “But I took a lot of positives from that week. I’m feeling great from London, a lot of confidence from there.”
Wawrinka arrived in Lille via train shortly following his semi-final loss in London and quickly began his training and physio. He is adamant that his loss last week will not negatively impact his performances at this historic final.
“When I came here with the physio and everything, everything was different. It was a new week, a new state of mind. So mentally it was easy for me to switch, to forget about this big disappointment, start on something positive.”
Many assumed that World No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had willingly chosen not to participate in the Paris Bercy or head to London as an alternate in order to maximize his preparation for the Davis Cup final. However, it appears the Frenchman had suffered an arm injury and did not want to risk missing the event.
“If I didn’t play these past weeks, it’s not because I chose not to play,” Tsonga responded. “Secondly, what reassures me is that in the past I didn’t always need to have a lot of competition under my belt to play well.
“So, on the contrary, when I play too many tournaments, sometimes I get tired. Honestly, for me, it is not something that will be a factor this weekend.”
This marks the sixth time that Tsonga and Wawrinka will meet on the professional tour, and the first time on an indoor clay court. With their series tied 2-2 on the red clay, this should make for a competitive encounter and a difficult match-up to predict. However, considering Tsonga has been practicing o this surface for longer, and will be playing in front of a boisterous French crowd, he will have a possible advantage over his Swiss-French opponent.
Prediction: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Five Sets