Australia v Switzerland World Group Play-Off
Australiais back in the familiar position of having to qualify for the Davis Cup’s elite world group once again, but showed positive signs for the future of tennis inAustralia.
Facing off against the much more fanciedSwitzerlandteam featuring former world number one Roger Federer,Australiawas always going to be up against it, but certainly matched it with the Swiss team. Even captain of the Australian team, Pat Rafter, conceded in the post-match press conference that it was always going to take something special to beat the Swiss team.
Our next great hope, Bernard Tomic, showed why he is considered the future of the Australian Davis Cup team by beating the more fancied Stanislas Wawrinka fromSwitzerlandin the opening rubber of the tie. After losing the first set 6-4 to Wawrinka, who is ranked 40 places higher than the Aussie, Tomic fought back to win the next three sets 6-4 6-3 6-3 to give Australia the lead.
Lleyton Hewitt then teamed up with Chris Guccione to defeat Roger Federer and Wawrinka in the doubles rubber after Hewitt earlier succumbed in the second singles rubber in a valiant four set effort to Federer.
Heading into the final day,Australiawere leading two rubbers to one, and an upset was on the cards. Needing one of the two final singles rubbers, Tomic was first up and although he took a set off Federer, it wasn’t enough and it was down, as always, to Hewitt to save the day forAustralia.
He took on Wawrinka, and was a match that swung towards both players at different times in the match. After going set for set, it came down to the fifth and final set before light controversially stopped play at 5-3 with Hewitt down a break of serve.
Rafter was furious with the match officials, and post-match appealed for a light meter to be introduced to avoid incidents like this happening again.
“So how about we have something more neutral than just the referee’s decision, because the referee said ‘I’m neutral’ and I said ‘Well, you’re not playing, you don’t understand, you can’t see the ball. You’re the same as me sitting on the sidelines,’ so it’s just a crazy thing that’s always been in tennis,” Rafter said.
Even Federer had something to say, claiming that “I always have the feeling that the referees leave it a bit too late, then try to squeeze in another couple of games.”
When play resumed at 11am on Monday morning, a small but vocal crowd greeted both players with the battle of the Aussie Fanatics verse the small group of Swiss fans resuming before the players even entered the court. After a stirring rendition of Waltzing Matilda and We Will Rock You, Hewitt was greeted by a portion of the crowd belting out Advance Australia Fair. However, the crowd was soon silenced when a clearly struggling Hewitt was broken in the first game after dropping four points in a row including two double faults, handing Wawrinka the fifth set 6-3 and with it the tie.
Post-match, Hewitt cited stiffness as his major problem, and said he struggled to recover after a gruelling weekend of tennis.
Although the Australian team lost, meaning they are stuck in the Asia-Oceania league for another year, they put up a heroic fight.
Hewitt proved once again that he is Australia’s best-ever Davis Cup player, while Tomic showed that with the right work ethic, he is a certain star of the future.
“If he wants to work hard he’ll get the results, but he’s got to start having consistent results every time he walks onto the court and putting everything else out there… that’s been one of the weak parts of his game, that he’s not applying himself day in, day out,” Rafter said after the tie.