Davis Cup: Wawrinka puts Switzerland ahead of France in final
Lille, France: Stan Wawrinka gave Switzerland a 1-0 lead against France in the Davis Cup final by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday.
The Australian Open champion started strong, and overcame a second-set lapse by regaining control of the opening singles match with an aggressive display that paid off with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.
Wawrinka, who scored 25 points at the net, sealed his win on his first match point with a winning volley, then pointed to his head with his index finger, his trademark celebration gesture.
The second singles will pit Roger Federer, who has been dealing with a bad back, against Gael Monfils at Pierre Mauroy Stadium.
Wawrinka, who played last week in London on hard court at the ATP Finals, had no problem switching to clay and took control of rallies with his deep groundstrokes. He converted his second break point for a 3-1 lead as he won eight consecutive points and took the Frenchman's serve again.
Tsonga had to fight hard in the opening game of the second set to hold after saving another break point with a fierce smash before one of the 27,432 spectators — a record for a Davis Cup match — shouted "Crybaby, cry," a reference to the word reportedly yelled by Federer's wife at Wawrinka last weekend during the ATP Finals semi between the Swiss pair.
Wawrinka did not react but his play dropped a bit while Tsonga started to serve better. He put the Swiss under pressure in the fourth game with a series of good returns and Wawrinka handed him the break with a double fault.
Spurred on by his buoyant fans, Tsonga stayed in control to level the tie at one set apiece but showed his nerves in the sixth game of the third set, hitting three unforced errors including a double fault to drop his serve.
After saving two consecutive set points in the eighth game, Tsonga turned to his fans to ask for some support, with the crowd responding with shouts of "Allez La France" that covered the noise made by the cow-bell ringing Swiss fans. But Wawrinka did not flinch and held then broke immediately with another superb backhand at the start of the fourth set.
The fourth-ranked Swiss continued to put Tsonga on the back foot by taking all risks on his opponent's second serve and broke again after frustrating him with a series of backhand and forehand winners in the seventh game.
Switzerland is bidding for its first Davis Cup title, while France is seeking its 10th. This is the 13th meeting between the teams, with France leading 10-2.