Hey all, a rather eventful weekend in the Davis Cup as Team Switzerland fought back from 1-2 down to beat Kazakhstan 3-2 and move into the Semi Finals. A comeback was always likely but there were big question marks over Wawrinka's form and ability to perform on Swiss soil but luckily Stanimal found some form when it mattered to beat Kukushkin and Roger then played a clutch match to beat Golubev in 3 sets. It was another masterful performance from the GOAT who was playing a decisive 5th rubber for the first time ever in his career after making his Davis Cup debut in 1999.
I'm not really a big Davis Cup fan as I think the format needs changing to make it more appealing globally (once every 4 years) but this weekend definitely saw some good tennis in all of the ties. France came from 0-2 down to win 3-2 with Monfils actually playing well under pressure for a change and then the Italians schooled the Brits on clay to win both singles matches on the final day. Fognini defeated Murray in straights and it was an absolute clay court masterclass before Seppi saw off James Ward in 3 sets to setup the tie with Switzerland.
As most of you will know a couple of readers (maybe even more but I don't know for certain;)) of this blog saw the tie live and have kindly put their experiences down on paper for others to enjoy. Thanks and take it away Rita and Simon.
Thoughts on the weekend from Rita
Well I'm just slowly descending from Cloud 9 now after being at Palexpo to enjoy this extraordinary weekend. What an atmosphere there was! The Swiss supporters were fantastic. I think on Sunday the reception and the cheering and thunderous foot-stamping for Stan were even more than for Roger – probably because they knew Stan needed the encouragement that little bit more. And he certainly got it. The only two (small) downers for me were that I wish supporters would not clap and cheer when the opponents make an error like double-faulting. I find that unkind and thoughtless. And I was unfortunate enough to have as my neighbours two men (a couple I think) who kept climbing over seats to change their places to better advantage whenever someone left the hall for a while, and also kept standing up and cheering, usually during an important point, and taking photos (of each other). The type of people who are unaware that there is anyone else in the world to consider. I'm sure we've all met them in our lives. I did try to take a few photos myself with my phone but, sadly, when I look at them they might as well be in Disneyland for all you can distinguish.
Stan played badly on Friday. His opponent played very well, it's true, but Stan's form has been worrying lately. It's almost as though his AO win has affected him inasmuch as before he had nothing to lose whereas now he has a reputation to defend and is having trouble doing that. After watching the doubles match on TV on Saturday, I went to Sunday's rubbers with no real expectation of seeing Switzerland win. I was fairly sure of Roger, but thought it highly likely Stan would let the occasion get the better of him again. How wrong I was. It was worrying when he lost the first set as I thought that could only make him even more nervous, but he managed to rally, pull himself together and find his form again. I have to say he played well in the first set – much better than on Friday – and really deserved to win it I thought. Anyway, well done Stan for keeping Switzerland's hopes alive.
And what can you say about Roger. It's not the first time I've seen him play live but it is the first time I've seen a Davis Cup tie with it's extraordinary atmosphere. A few things I noticed about Roger that don't always come across on TV: Sitting by the side, watching Stan's match, Roger was always the first to rise to his feet and applaud when Stan got an important point and the first to do the same in encouragement when he lost. And that even though he appeared to be chatting to his fellow players a lot of the time rather than paying attention to the match. Apparently he was paying attention after all. I also noticed that during his own match Roger was at the net first for the coin toss, not keeping his opponent waiting, and that whenever they changed ends it was nearly always him who stepped aside to let his opponent pass. Good manners seem to come naturally to him. And there is an aura about him as soon as he walks onto the court that seems to cause a hush in the crowd. You can see where the JesusFed comparisons come from. There is something godlike or at least royal about him. He moves around, both playing and between shots with a smoothness that makes it look as though he's gliding instead of walking/running. His opponent on Sunday especially, played really well and Roger had to work hard for the win, but somehow it didn't really seem like it. It all looked somewhat easy which of course it wasn't. I took a toilet break and missed the important break in the second set, but walking past the stands you didn't need to be there to know what had happened
Altogether it was an extraordinary experience and one I'm more than glad I didn't miss out on. I thought it would be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, but now it looks as though I might have another chance in September
Three cheers for the Kazakhstan supporters. They were a small island of blue in an ocean of red, but they cheered their team on gustily. They were sitting opposite me and sometimes if I missed a point (because of the two gentlemen mentioned earlier) I only had to look at them to see what had happened. A small number they were, surely not more than about 50, but they managed all the same to incorporate a full orchestra in their numbers. There were drums, clarinets, saxophones and trombones blasting away quite tunefully. I think they were only missing a grand piano.
Great weekend, great time. Huge, huge thanks to the whole Swiss team but especially Roger and Stan of course. Roll on September. Allez la Suisse!
Thoughts from Simon
Just managed to find a break in work to get this piece done!
Man, where to start?… Probably with the atmosphere. You go to Davis cup first for the atmosphere, and the tennis is secondary. My friend and I had great places, at an angle with the court, which helps a lot with depth and left/ right perception.
The public was a little slow on Friday, not quite into it yet, and Stan’s defeat deflated us quite a bit. And for the maestro, well, he didn’t need much encouraging did he? Stan’s match was pretty bad, but when you’re into it, and watching it live, it doesn’t feel half as bad. Kudos to Golubev, he played a great match. Stan seemed very sluggish and his placement lacked big time, resulting in the 70+ UE. Those who thought this was going to be a walkover where kind of shocked (me included, I was hoping they lose the doubles, so we could see a meaningful match on Sunday… Boy did that happen!).
Then enter the GOAT. Not a fantastic match by any standards, but some very nice shot making, exho type shots (lob on break point anyone?) The first thing that struck was difference in Stan’s and Roger’s placement. Roger’s feet just seemed to be right where they were supposed to be, when they supposed to be. Crazy. I watched several point by just watching his footwork, and it’s just mesmerizing…
Then came the autograph session. As soon as match point was over, sprint down to where he passes to get his autograph. That’s where I realized that Rog is a great PERSON. There was a small kid in front of me, about 7 y.o, who wanted his autograph (duh). When Roger came up to us, a bitch (pardon my language 😛 ) put her poster completely over his to get the autograph, and the kid looked really anxious. Roger didn’t miss that, push the women’s poster away, asked the kid his name, and wrote “to Tim from Roger” and signed it. Needless to say, the kid was sooo happy! And he didn’t sign the women’s poster 😀
Then came my turn, and I got signed the ball that Stan threw in the stadium last Davis Cup against Czech Republic. I told him it was really nice seeing him live, to which he asked if it was the first time. I told him that I had seen him in London, where he dispatched Tipsy in under an hour, and that I was seated too high to see very well. He laughed and told me he was glad he enjoyed it, and to have a good week end! Also, two kids (5 years olds) wanted pictures with him, which was hard because of the barrier between them. He asked security to lift them over the barrier and take pictures with them. They were ecstatic!
So for those who didn’t know, our Roger is a great person!
Moving on to Saturday, we all thought Fedrinka would win this. But unfortunately Stan completely imploded. I remember blowing four straight routine volleys. Crazy really. Almost club level volleys… Roger did as much as he could, but he was not going to win alone against the two others. Credit to them, they played a great match, but Stan’s morale was down in his shoes, and no amount of our cheering managed to change that. The atmosphere was electric, and it was a good match, unfortunately lost.
Imagine Sunday, when Stan had to win to keep us alive. Many of us where very bleak about the outcome… And he mustered what he needed to win. He raised his level considerably from the last two days, and managed to overcome Kukushkin despite losing the first set. People were wild during that entire match. Probably the highlight of the week end for me. 15 000 people cheering at once for one man gives you the shivers, I tell you! The crowd at the win was almost out of control, and relieved. Many us thought that Roger would get this done fairly easily. In fact, Roger’s match almost felt flat compared to Stan’s. Maybe the pressure going down, but I really felt that Fed’s match was pretty average…
Anyway, it was great week end, and really nice seeing Roger and Stan play together. And like Rita said, those Kazakhstan supporters were crazy good considering their numbers… They were 50 against 15 000 Swiss, and they could still be heard. Hopefully they can pull it off against Italy in September, but right now, we’re savoring victory! 😀
Please forgive the spelling mistakes that are bound to be there!
Federer vs Golubev Highlights
Next stop Madrid!