Roger Federer, the world No.2, has been beaten by world No. 19 Gael Monfils in the final of the Davis Cup between hosts France and Switzerland. Playing before his home crowd at the Patrick Mauroy Stadium in Lille. Monfils struck 44 winners on his way to a straight sets 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 victory over the Swiss.
Monfils’ win leveled the tie to 1-1 after Switzerland won the first live rubber when Stan Wawrinka fought past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. The Frenchman could not have played better in achieving his third career win over Federer. Having lost 8 times previously, including letting a two sets to love and two match points lead against Federer slip at this season’s U.S Open, Monfils was not expected to win if Federer was fully fit.
Unfortunately for the crowd and the competition, the sight of Federer looking lost as one baseline rally went against him after another as the uber-athletic shot-maker Monfils played havoc with the Swiss’ chances was all fans needed to glimpse to understand that the back injury sustained in his three set loss to Stan Wawrinka was still playing up. Credit must go to Monfils, though, whatever the 17 time Grand slam champion’s condition, for taking the match to the Swiss No.1 and delivering on his talent on such a huge stage.
The French now go into the weekend as favorites. Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau, the French pairing, are heavyweight opposition for the doubles rubber played tomorrow and the Swiss Davis Cup captain Severin Luthri will have to decide which of his players to field. Federer said in his post match conference he would be ready for the doubles, and if he is chosen, he would most likely partner Wawrinka, his Olympic Gold doubles partner. However, if Federer and Wawrinka are tired out on Sunday after a grueling doubles match, then the final day may be a foregone conclusion with no other members of the Swiss team ranked in the top 200. After Federer and Wawrinka, ranked 2 and 4 respectively, comes Marc Chuidinelli, ranked 212, and Michael Lammer, ranked 512. Those two are favorites to contest the doubles, with the French expected to win. That would then leave it to Federer to beat Tsonga and Wawrinka to beat Monfils if the Swiss have any hopes of winning their first Davis Cup title and preventing France from claiming their tenth.
Tsonga, who criticised the French home crowd of 27, 432 of not giving the home team enough support, will be a tough opponent for a not fully fit Federer to overcome. The Frenchman already has a big win over Federer on home soil, a straight setter at Roland Garros in the 2013 quarter-finals, and a recent win over the Swiss in the ATP 1000 Toronto final.
Monfils, meanwhile, who admitted feeling nervous going into the match, said afterwards he played one of the best three matches of his life, dealt brilliantly with the pressure of going into his match with France 0-1 down, and will thrive if his match with Wawrinka is the deciding rubber. Monfils and Wawrinka are tied in their head to head at 2-2 but have not played since the Australian Open 2011. Wawrinka, who hit 61 winners in his four set win over Tsonga, will have a lot on his hands against Monfils. The Frenchman has the reputation of being a showman and there are few grander stages than the Pierre Mauroy stadium, which today hosted the most amount of visitors in history (24, 432) to a single tennis match, for the world No. 19 to show off his talents as he did so formidably today against Federer.
Commentary by Christian Deverille
Photo courtesy of Marianne Bevis – License