NEUCHATEL, SWITZERLAND: It was touch and go for a moment in what proved to be a decisive fourth-set tiebreak, but Severin Luthi, the Swiss Davis Cup captain, in the end was vindicated by his decision to go with experience rather than youth when 32-year-old Marco Chiudinelli gave Switzerland a commanding 2-0 lead against Ecuador in their World Group play-off at Patinoire du Littoral in Neuchatel.
The Finnish-born 21-year-old Henri Laaksonen, who has played just one live rubber for his newly adopted country, thought he should have got the nod for the second rubber and when he made his dissatisfaction clear Luthi had no option but to discipline him, leaving him behind at the team’s hotel.
Meanwhile Chiudinelli repaid his captain’s faith in him with a gutsy 36 61 63 76(7) victory over the Ecuadorian No. 1 Julio-Cesar Campozano, staving off two sets points in the fourth-set tiebreak.
Stanislas Wawrinka, the Swiss No. 1 who had given his country a flying start earlier in the day with a straight sets win, described Laaksonen’s behaviour during training in the past few days as “unacceptable” and was firmly behind his captain’s decision to leave him out.
Luthi commented: “I wasn’t happy with his respect level. I think it’s important for the young guys that they learn about that. First of all I think it’s important that we give our team the best chance to win – you try to have the best atmosphere in the team – and the second thing is that it’s absolutely important that he learns those things - that’s why I took this decision.”