Despite everything that happened over the last few days, Roger Federer brought his best, sublime tennis to his singles match with Richard Gasquet to come away with the win that wins Switzerland their first Davis Cup title, while Federer himself wins the only title missing from his loaded trophy cabinet.
The feud with Stanislas Wawrinka that involved his wife, the 0-3 loss to Gael Monfils which didn’t bother Federer, at least on the exterior, one bit. It all preceded to an excellent doubles performance from him and Wawrinka, followed by Federer making the final game meaningless, crushing Gasquet on the clay in Lille, beating the Frenchman in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, as Switzerland took a 3-1 win.
For years he held the national team on his own shoulders, which included an incredible streak (recently broken) of winning singles matches. But he needed something, and finally Wawrinka rose to the occasion, elevating his play, on most days at least, to the highest level possible in the world of Tennis.
The Davis Cup is just like the Grand Slam with a touch of patriotism. France didn’t have a home court advantage with hordes of Swiss fans filling and making more noise at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy. They also had a part to play in Federer’s performance on the winning occasion, looking better, stronger and more accurate with every hit.
Ranked second in the world, Federer is still a force in Tennis. Maybe not as good as in the past, and possibly he’s already won his last Grand Slam title. But still, there isn’t a single player in the world with the ability to excite others like him, to produce this kind of Tennis when he’s at his best, not to mention still being the most popular player in the world.
Tennis is rarely a team sport, with doubles being meaningful to very few except when it’s playing for your flag. But the Davis Cup, especially for nations that rarely find themselves playing for the big trophy, is something unique. The best player in the history of the sport has been ‘unlucky’ to be something of a ‘one of a kind’ in his country for so long. Until now, and it turns out that change and improvement in his partner paved the way to winning the one title he hasn’t been able to capture for all these years.
For those asking: Federer did hug, more than once, with Wawrinka after the win. With tears in his eyes, despite hating his compatriot’s guts for a few days, he knows that without him, in the doubles and the opening win over Tsonga, all of this would have been impossible.