By Julien Pretot
SWITZERLAND’S Roger Federer, who has been hampered by back problems, has been named to play in the second singles rubber of the Davis Cup final against France’s Gael Monfils on Friday.
The 17-time grand slam champion, looking to give the Swiss a maiden title in the team competition, withdrew from the ATP World Tour final against Novak Djokovic in London last Sunday.
But the world number two was back in training on Thursday at Lille’s Pierre Mauroy stadium, where the tie will be played indoors on clay in front of some 27,000 fans.
“Things have been going well out there this morning. I was really happy with the way I felt,” Federer, who made his decision to play after Thursday’s early practice session, told a news conference following the draw ceremony.
Asked if he was 100 per cent fit, Federer said: “Only the match gives you the answer. I’m just pleased that I can play tomorrow, give it a go. Things have been going well.”
Federer’s inclusion did not surprise the French.
“It is not a surprise for us, we prepared ourselves to play against Roger and Stan,” said France captain Arnaud Clement.
“He’s had three days to rest and before that he played his best tennis (in London) so it’s all good for him,” said Monfils, who lost to
Federer in five sets in the U.S. Open quarter-finals in September and has never beaten him in five matches on clay.
Switzerland’s world number four Stan Wawrinka will open proceedings against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday in what is expected to be a close battle.
“We always play close matches, determination will be the key,” said Tsonga, who has a 3-2 record against Wawrinka.
“It’s going to be a bit different here, it’s on indoor clay and there will be more pressure,” said Wawrinka.
Switzerland captain Severin Luthi named Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer to play in Saturday’s doubles against Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet but he has until one hour before the start of the match to change his lineup.
Federer will face Tsonga in the reverse singles with Wawrinka playing Monfils in the potentially deciding fifth match.
France are trying to win the Davis Cup for the 10th time, having last lifted the title in 2001. They lost in their last two finals against Russia in 2002 and Serbia in 2010.
The team led by Clement beat holders Czech Republic in the semi-finals while Switzerland defeated Italy.