Lille, France (SportsNetwork.com) - Roger Federer lost and Stan Wawrinka won, as visiting Switzerland and France are tied at 1-1 following the opening singles at the 2014 Davis Cup final.
The Swiss drew first blood on Friday when Wawrinka handled Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets, while the nightcap saw Gael Monfils douse the former world No. 1 Federer in straights, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3, on some slow red clay in Lille.
The acrobatic former top-10 star Monfils played near flawless tennis in taking advantage of the 33-year-old Federer, who failed to demonstrate his typical on-court prowess, perhaps due to a much-publicized back injury.
"It's hard to say whether he is injured because I'm not necessarily looking at him," said Monfils. "But if he is here it is because he thinks he will beat you."
Already ahead by two sets, a determined Monfils got his fourth break of the match to grab a 3-2 lead in the third, and he would keep Federer down from there.
Monfils broke Federer once again to close out the rubber, which he did on his first match point with an easy backhand winner. The uneventful affair was over in 1 hour, 46 minutes, as Monfils notched one of the biggest wins of his career by popping 10 aces and tallying five breaks, while a stunned Federer failed to break his French counterpart on Day 1.
Monfils struck 19 more winners than Federer (44-25), while the Swiss legend uncorked 11 more unforced errors (29-18).
"Clearly I did feel that I had not hit and played and moved at all for five days, and Gael played well," said Federer, who got in very little practice time on the clay court this week.
"It's not like I couldn't play at all. Those who saw the match saw that it was a proper match and he was the better player at the end."
The 19th-ranked Monfils is now 10-2 in his career Davis Cup singles, while Federer fell to 37-8.
The world No. 2 Federer is now 8-3 lifetime against Monfils, who pushed the Swiss icon mightily in their last meeting in the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open, where Federer had to save two match points before coming back to win in a five-set thriller.
In the opener in Lille on Friday, the world No. 4 Australian Open champion Wawrinka bludgeoned the tennis ball in outgunning the former Aussie runner-up Tsonga on the Frenchman's home soil, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Wawrinka was spot on with a sensational one-handed backhand and prevailed in 2 hours, 24 minutes by breaking Tsonga's serve five times. Tsonga had to settle for only one break in the setback.
"I was confident. I showed him on the court that I was better than he was," said Wawrinka.
The 29-year-old Wawrinka is now 3-3 lifetime against the 12th-ranked Tsonga, including wins in their last two meetings. The Swiss slugger also topped Tsonga on some clay in Madrid last year.
Wawrinka improved to 21-13 lifetime in his career Davis Cup singles, while Tsonga fell to 16-5.
Saturday's doubles match has a French tandem of Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau facing a Swiss duo of Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer, but expect Federer and Wawrinka to team up for that one if the great Federer is fit enough to play.
The Wimbledon runner-up pulled out of last week's championship match at the ATP World Tour Finals in London because of his back, a problem that slowed the Swiss legend mightily in 2013.
Sunday's reverse singles will pit the 17-time Grand Slam king Federer against Tsonga and Wawrinka versus Monfils.
The best-of-five tie is being staged on an indoor clay court at Stade Pierre Mauroy in front of a capacity crowd of more than 27,000, which sets a new record for an officially-sanctioned tennis match, overtaking the Spain- United States Davis Cup final at the Estadio Olympico de Sevilla in 2004.
Switzerland is captained by Severin Luthi, while France is guided by former Aussie runner-up Arnaud Clement.
The French are 10-2 all-time versus the Swiss in Davis Cup play. The two nations last met in a 2004 quarterfinal that was won by France.
The nine-time champion French are seeking their first Davis Cup title in 13 years, while Switzerland and the iconic Federer have never hoisted the coveted 114-year-old chalice.
The Swiss finished as runners-up in 1992.