By Julien Pretot
Gael Monfils upset Roger Federer 6-1 6-4 6-3 to help France level the Davis Cup final with Switzerland 1-1 on Friday.
After Stan Wawrinka gave the Swiss a 1-0 lead by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-2, Monfils was at his best against world number two Federer who has recently been hampered by back problems.
The doubles will be played on Saturday, with the reverse singles on Sunday on the clay of the Pierre Mauroy stadium.
France, who last lifted the trophy in 2001, are looking to win the Davis Cup for the 10th time while Switzerland are seeking their maiden title.
Speaking to reporters, Tsonga rued a lack of crowd support as a record attendance could not bring the best out of the French number one.
Some 2,500 Switzerland fans, among a 27,432 crowd, were frequently more vocal than the massed home support under the closed roof.
“When the teams were introduced, they (the Switzerland fans) applauded Stan more than us, Roger more than us. We heard the Swiss spectators more than we heard the French ones,” a dejected Tsonga told a news conference.
“Stan, for example, announced that the ball was out, and it was in. I just went to check the mark, and I was booed in my own country – maybe not by the French spectators but by the Swiss spectators. It’s annoying.”
Tsonga, however, did little to spark cheers from the crowd with an uninspiring display in the face of a fired-up Wawrinka, who peppered the court with winners.
“We need to go and get the enthusiasm of the French crowd by the quality of our game,” Tsonga added.
“It’s because I was not winning today maybe that this happened. I’m hoping that for the next matches it’s going to change.”
Wawrinka said that the configuration of the arena, with many of the seats close to the court reserved for VIPs, might have played a role in muting the home support, especially since the Swiss fans were closer to the action.
“I think because of the match maybe we were having more support from the Swiss people than the French guys,” he said.
“I think it’s tough to get all the noise from the people really upstairs.”
Yet Wawrinka said that his performance was the main reason for the dampened atmosphere.
“They didn’t have the chance to do something for him,” he said.
“I think it’s maybe a little bit easy for him to say the crowd wasn’t supporting him enough. I think it’s just because on the court I was the better player and that’s it.”