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Wawrinka gives Switzerland impressive 2-0 lead
Stanislas Wawrinka helped Switzerland take a giant step towards a place in the World Group of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas next year, beating Andrew Murray 63 76 64 to give his team a 2-0 lead over Great Britain in Geneva.
Earlier in the day, Roger Federer had got the Swiss off to a flying start, taking just an hour and 15 minutes to whip past little-known Briton Alan Mackin 60 60 62 in Friday’s opening rubber.
Murray is scheduled to join up with Greg Rusedski against Federer and Yves Allegro in Saturday’s doubles in the hope of avoiding a whitewash. If the British can earn a point from the doubles, Murray has the unenviable task of playing Federer in the first of Sunday’s first reverse singles and, if the tie is still alive, Rusedski will then be brought in to play Wawrinka in what would be the deciding rubber.
Wawrinka’s victory over Murray marked the 20-year-old’s first victory in Davis Cup play yet he put in an assured, confident performance against Murray. The Swiss, who is ranked 60 in the world – 50 places above his 18-year-old opponent – played composed, aggressive tennis to earn his win, coming from 1-4 down in the second set tiebreaker and from 0-2 down in the third set to dispatch the precocious Briton in straight sets.
“I was nervous before the match but once I got on the court I was fine,” said Wawrinka. “I stayed focused and consistent throughout the match and that was the key.”
After Wawrinka deservedly won the first set, capitalizing on a 5-1 lead, Murray battled through to a tiebreaker in the second set and looked odds on to level the match before Wawrinka retrieved two mini-breaks to win it 7-5 in what turned out to be the crux of the match. Murray, who was playing his first singles Davis Cup match, was furious with himself as he stalked back to his chair at two sets down and angrily bounced his racket into the clay, sensing, perhaps, that his chance had gone.
“I didn’t start off great but from 1-5 down I thought I played pretty well and I had some chances in the second and third sets,” said Murray. “I just didn’t play well enough today and he played very well."
Great Britain’s team captain Jeremy Bates must now try to lift his squad’s spirits after a depressing afternoon for the British players and supporters. Great Britain has only come from 0-2 down once before, when it overhauled Germany in April 1930 and has never beaten Switzerland in the competition.
“It’s disappointing to be 2-0 down but the second match was very tight,” said Bates. “Wawrinka played fantastically well on the big points and Andy played some really good tennis. I’ve said all along that to win this tie we’ve got to win the two matches against Wawrinka but that’s amazingly difficult to do when the guy plays as well as that.”
His decision to play Mackin over Rusedski in Friday’s the first singles match of the tie always going to put the 24-year-old Scot in a vulnerable position. He is ranked 262 to Federer’s No.1 and lost his only previous Davis Cup match to Mark Philippoussis of Australia in January 2003. Federer, in contrast, has now won 14 of his last 15 Davis Cup matches, with all 14 victories coming in straight sets.
He hasn’t been beaten in Davis Cup play since Lleyton Hewitt came from two sets down to beat him in the Switzerland versus Australia semi-final in September 2003. Across all competitions, Federer, the reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion, has lost only three times this year. Mackin, who took 54 minutes to win a game, never appeared equipped to force another defeat.