Sunday, November 23, 2014

The emotional week of Federer fans

And they've done it!  The elusive Davis Cup trophy is finally theirs after a masterclass performance by Roger Federer over substitute French player Richard Gasquet.  But allow me to regress for a just a moment.

Oh, the emotions of the last week as a Federer fan.  Last Sunday was one of deep disappointment as Roger had to withdraw from the final of the World Tour Finals after injuring his back against buddy Stan Wawrinka.  Then there was the little tiff between the two that should have stayed like that, just between the two.  Instead, thanks to many stupid media people, it became "huge" news.  Then there was the wondering whether Roger would even be able to play Davis Cup at all, as doctors worked on his back and he rested.  There was cautious optimism as he took to the practice court mid week, and again on Friday after a brilliant performance by Stan Wawrinka over Jo Wilfred Tsonga, but then disappointment again as Roger lost in straight sets to Gael Monfils.  Though Roger definitely improved as the match went on, it was obvious that once he got over the tentativeness from the back scare, that he just really hadn't practiced much on clay.  Then Saturday came with the news that Roger and Stan would be taking the doubles court.  Wow, was that a great decision to have them play, as well as the earlier decision to seek the help of the Bryan Brothers' coach David Macpherson to increase their doubles strategy.  Usually the doubles point is huge in winning Davis Cup ties, and it certainly was here.

When I woke up on Sunday and found that Gasquet was replacing Tsonga in the singles match against Federer I know the Swiss guys likely had it in the bag.  Roger had found his game again on the doubles court Saturday, with his back obviously recovered and with enough clay practice to again feel comfortable.  I wouldn't say that Gasquet played a bad match; he was simply over-classed by an in-the-zone Fed who wasn't playing for himself, but for his brothers and for his country.  In fact, Federer never even faced a break point in his 6-4 6-2 6-2 win.  As he eased a final drop shot over the net on match point, he fell to his knees, then full out on his stomach as emotions took over.  The hugs from Captain Severin Luthi and then all the other members of the team were priceless to watch as I wiped my own tears.

 To say this is a well deserved win for both Federer and Wawrinka is a huge understatement.  So many of the teams who have won this trophy multiple times have come as a result of a great depth of players to rely on when some members want to take a break.  Not so with the Swiss - it really has been up to these two, which makes the win even more meaningful.  They both devoted themselves this year to making Davis Cup a priority and thankfully it paid off.  It would have been a terrible shame if the back injury that occurred when the two of them played each other the week before had prevented this great victory.  The fact that there was a little tension between the two really only shows the depth of their friendship; just as husbands and wives have little arguments and then quickly move forward, so did these two, who now get to share a wonderful celebration together on behalf of their team and their country.  Congratulations Swiss guys, and I will always feel that I have some Swiss blood in me because of you.