Well what an interesting first day of the Davis Cup final that was. A couple of weeks ago this is the opposite of what you would have expected to happen. Stan confidently disposes of Tsonga 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the opening singles and then Roger gets straight setted 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 by Monfils. It seems like Roger and Stan can’t play well for the Swiss at the same time. Of course Roger’s back injury had a big role to play in his loss to Monfils, but given how Monfils played he may have lost anyway. The French have the advantage of playing at home and being able to train on clay while Roger and Stan was still playing in London. And of course with R0ger’s injury he couldn’t train the way he wanted to. He said after that match that the injury didn’t bother him on his ground strokes(did it both him on his serve?) but the fact that he couldn’t start training earlier on clay was a problem for him.
And lets face it Roger’s clay form hasn’t exactly been the greatest in the last couple of years. So I think the French made the right decision to play on clay, even though Stan is adapting very well. You gotta hand it to Stan. He really stepped up when he was needed. Who’s the cry baby now? Haha. That was maybe the best Stan has played since the Australian Open this year. My connection was very poor but his ground strokes was lethal and he just dominated Tsonga from the base line. When Stan plays like that he is a joy to watch and almost impossible to beat. Monfils was in similar form though. At least my connection was good for Roger match, only to see him getting blasted off the court in straight sets! It wasn’t much of a contest. Monfils was by far the superior player. He was clearly feeding off the energy of the crowd and afterwards said he played one of the three best matches of his life.
Who’s the cry baby now?
Monfils was ripping winners from all over the place and his serve was huge too. Roger on the other hand was really struggling. He just looked altogether unimpressive and clay has now become by far his worst surface, whereas before it was just his worst surface.Clearly it didn’t help that he got injured in London and the fact that he couldn’t hit the clay courts as soon as he was finished there, but like I said he may have lost anyway. That is just how well Monfils played. And then of course having the home crowd on his side helps a lot. The French are not known for being mentally the strongest players, but they are an altogether different cup of tea when they play at home. With the home support they all of a sudden seem almost invincible. So the home advantage for the French is definitely big here. Even if Roger was 100% fit this would have been a challenging tie.
So actually I don’t feel too bad about Roger’s injury as the score would probably have been 1-1 after day one had Roger been fully fit all week. Today is of course doubles and that will be huge. Every match is huge but the team that goes ahead 2-1 into the final day will probably be the favorites. An interesting scenario would be if the French win the doubles, Roger wins his match against Tsonga, and we have a one match shoot out between the two in form players Monfils and Stan to decide the champions. Roger said he will make himself available for the doubles if he feels he can play properly and I am wondering whether he is not taking too many risks with his back, but we may well see a Fedrinka doubles team. The French initially had Gasquet and Benneteau down for doubles while the Swiss had Chiudinelli and Lammer. But it will be interesting to see who they opt for today. Roger may end up playing three days in a row.
I guess I was wrong about their friendship…
This Davis Cup obviously comes at a very difficult time for him with his back problem. He’d rather be resting and giving his back treatment right now but now he is in the middle of a physically taxing Davis Cup tie. I said before he should just skip the Davis Cup final but he couldn’t do that. This is a big opportunity for him as well as his country and he couldn’t let it pass. It is to a certain extent very risky, because already the loss to Monfils does not do his confidence good. It is the kind of loss he would have suffered in 2013 when he was so low on confidence. Now it becomes even more important that the Swiss win the tie. If Roger performs poorly in the tie and the Swiss lose then it will clearly not help his confidence for next year. I mean he already had to pull out of London so it is not like he ended the year on a high there. And what would be even more disastrous is if he makes his back worse.
So yes this is a difficult and risky situation but as always Roger is the eternal optimist which always helps. He said after his loss that he started feeling better as the match went on and that it is very encouraging. I think it may be better if he sits out the doubles and make sure he is in the best possible shape for the singles against Tsonga. But then again if him and Stan wins the doubles then they only need one singles. I just think he shouldn’t be pushing his back so hard right after what happened in London. What if it flairs up in the doubles and he can’t play singles on the third day at all? These are all things that the Swiss team will have to consider going forward to give them the best possible chance of winning their first Davis Cup title. I just hope Roger can salvage a Davis Cup title here to end the year with. You feel like he deserves it after missing out on both Wimbledon and the World Tour finals so heartbreakingly!