23rd November, 2014
Roger Federer gave Switzerland its first Davis Cup title in Lille on Sunday by defeating Richard Gasquet of France in straight sets in the first of the final’s reverse singles.
Federer romped to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win to hand the Swiss an unbeatable 3-1 lead after Stan Wawrinka had won the opening singles of the match and the world number two and four had teamed up to win the doubles on Saturday.
It was one of the greatest sporting triumphs for Switzerland and a huge personal milestone for Federer to go with his 17 Grand Slam titles, six Masters titles and Olympic doubles gold.
It left him with just an Olympic singles gold to win in Rio in 2016 to become just the third man, after great rival Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi, to win all four Grand Slam titles, the Olympic title and the Davis Cup.
“It’s an an enormous pleasure for me, I’ve waited 15 years for this,” Federer told French TV.
“This has been a perfect weekend in a crazy atmosphere and all the Swiss fans helped us enormously.
But he refused to accept that finally winning the Davis Cup made him the greatest player of all-time. “That’s of no importance to me, what matters is that I enjoy playing tennis,” he added.
Federer had expected to play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first of Sunday’s two rubbers, but the French number one, who lost to Wawrinka in four sets on Friday, was struggling with an arm injury and forced to pull out.
In came Gasquet with the monumental task of defeating Federer and opening the door for the possibility of the in-form Gael Monfils defeating Wawrinka in the decider.
Another world record crowd of 27,488 roared their support for Gasquet as the two players came out into the red claycourt set down inside one half of a roofed over Lille football stadium.
– Struggling –
The 33-year-old Swiss superstar executed an exquisite half-volley to bring up break point in the third game and sealed that with a superb backhand down the line.
Gasquet could make no inroads at all on the Federer serve and he was struggling manfully each time to hold his own.
Federer failed to convert two set points at 5-4 up, but another love service game did the trick in the following game.
When Federer broke serve to open the second set, the heads visibly went down in the French camp, while the outnumbered Swiss supporters got to their feet.
The merest point earned by Gasquet on the Federer serve brought an ear-splitting reaction from the French fans and the occasional rendition of ‘La Marseillaise’.
But it was all to no avail as a calm-as-you-like Federer brought up three more break points and converted the second of those to pocket the second set.
Gasquet put up some desperate late fight at the start of the second set, garnering a few points on the Federer serve, but he failed to earn a single break point.
The pressure on his own serve was all the more acute and a tired-looking backhand, which sailed well wide, handed Federer the final break of serve he needed.
Two games later it was all over, Federer falling to his knees in celebration after a final perfect backhand drop shot.