Federer recalls emotional 2001 Davis Cup win vs US
FRIBOURG, Switzerland – Roger Federer hopes to recapture the emotion of Switzerland's 2001 Davis Cup victory against the United States when they meet again in the first round this weekend.
Federer recalled the Swiss win on Tuesday, when as a 19-year-old he won three matches for a 3-2 victory in his home city of Basel.
"I think it was my first emotional outburst on a tennis court because I was so exhausted on Sunday after winning singles, doubles and singles," Federer said.
Federer said that performance, against a U.S. team led by Todd Martin, "definitely got me in winning ways." Months later at Wimbledon, he beat four-time defending champion Pete Sampras in the fourth round.
"It was a start of great things for me and I'm happy playing America again," said the 30-year-old Federer, who will line up in singles on Friday with Stanislas Wawrinka against Mardy Fish and John Isner.
Federer owns a record 16 Grand Slam singles titles, but he hasn't won the Davis Cup trophy.
Federer's skipped the first round of the Davis Cup since 2004, and changed his preparations to play Davis Cup this year.
He hasn't played on clay so early in the season since 2004 in Romania, and it's been seven years since he played in Europe in February.
On a cold, 20-degree day in Fribourg, it was perhaps easy to understand his previous schedule. He typically practices after the Australian Open and plays a single tournament in Dubai, where he has a home.
But Federer renewed his Davis Cup commitment by traveling to Australia last September for a World Group playoff that Wawrinka helped clinch. The five-set win over Lleyton Hewitt was halted in the Sunday twilight and completed Monday.
"It's only normal for me to play the first round after that heroic effort of his," Federer said.
The third-ranked Swiss said he's in "a good state mentally and physically" after his semifinal loss to Rafael Nadal in Melbourne.
"I've had a great run since last year's U.S. Open and haven't lost until just the other week," he said. "The transition to clay has been somewhat easy. Clay is good on the body."
Federer helped choose the slow indoor surface, a perceived weakness of the American team.
"It's the best surface to play the United States, and we think it will be a small advantage for us," Switzerland captain Severin Luethi said.
U.S. captain Jim Courier was content with court conditions, after practices suggested the balls fly faster at the stadium altitude of about 2,000 feet.
"It's playing the way we would want it to play," Courier said.
Fish has a career 1-7 record against Federer, though they have never met on clay.
"For a bunch of years he's been head and shoulders the second best (clay-court) player behind Rafa and has beaten him," the eighth-ranked Fish said. "Clay is obviously one of his strengths. But he's got his work cut out in the first match, as do I."
Fish is likely to play in doubles on Saturday — against Olympic champions Federer and Wawrinka — with Mike Bryan, whose brother and partner Bob is at home after the birth of his daughter last week.
"I've only played with one other person in the last 10 years and that was Mardy Fish, and we have good memories," Bryan said, recalling a five-set win against Spain's Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco in a 2008 Davis Cup semifinal.
Isner acknowledged that the U.S. start as underdogs, adding that he relished the challenge.
"It's not the easiest match, that's for sure. But we're definitely capable of coming here, playing well and hopefully getting out of here with a win," Isner said. "All of us cherish that ... to play for these guys, play for captain Courier and play for your country. It's really an honor."
Courier predicted a friendlier rivalry than the confrontational 1992 final when he helped a stellar U.S. lineup beat the Swiss in Fort Worth, Texas.
"I expect it will be a very friendly, competitive and gentlemanly contest between our teams," Courier said.