According to Swiss reports, Roger Federer will not be playing in the Switzerland vs. Spain first round Davis Cup tie this March. The teams will meet in Spain, undoubtedly on clay. The Spanish squad has yet to be announced, but everyone was obviously anticipating some Nadal vs. Federer action.
An article in Swiss paper Tages Anzeiger reports that Federer made an announcement today (Wednesday), presumably in Abu Dhabi, where he’s scheduled to play in an exhibition tournament this weekend.
Here’s my loose (and computer-assisted) translation of the Tages Anzeiger article – click here for the original:
Roger Federer said on Wednesday that he would not be playing defending champion Spain in Davis Cup (March 5 to 7).
The cancellation does not come as a complete surprise, for the duel on the Armada’s home clay courts is almost unwinnable (for Switzerland). Just before Davis Cup comes Federer’s “second home” tournament in Dubai, and following immediately are tournaments important to the world rankings in Indian Wells and Key Biscayne. All of these tournaments are held on hard courts.
A factor that may have played into the refusal of the ITF World Champion and European Sportsman of the Year is that Switzerland has an extremely unfavorable draw in 2010. Assuming a victory against Spain, France and Argentina are Switzerland’s expected opponents before the final.
This news won’t change much for team Captain Severin Lüthi’s strategy vis-à-vis previous years: this is the sixth time in a row that Federer will not be available for the first round. (The last time Roger played a Davis Cup match in February was in 2004 – ed.)
One thing may change for Team Suisse this time around: With his baby due in the first months of 2010, Second Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka may not be available to fill in as team leader.
So we may as well go through the usual Roger Federer/Davis Cup talking points while we’re on the topic:
1. Roger Federer doesn’t care about Davis Cup!
He does care (at least a little bit), but it seems that Davis Cup glory just isn’t a big priority for him at this point in his career. Which is a little surprising, since the Davis Cup is one of the few titles still missing from Roger’s resume. And Switzerland has never won the Cup before. But it’s not accurate to call Roger a Davis Cup slacker – Federer has a 37-11 career win-loss DC record. Andy Roddick – considered a DC stalwart and Roger’s contemporary – has a 31-11 record. So Roger’s done a lot for Team Suisse over the years. He could still do a lot more.
2. Roger Federer is ducking Rafael Nadal!
Nonsense. I might consider this argument if Roger pulled out after, say, losing to Nadal in the Australian Open final, and with Switzerland hosting Spain a few weeks later in Basel’s Roger Federer Hall. But he’s pulling out months before the tie and there’s no shame in losing to Nadal on clay, anyway. Plus, Roger beat Rafa the last time they played on Spanish soil. It’s not like he doesn’t think he could do it.
3. Roger Federer is disappointing the fans!
I agree 100%. Some hard core Roger fans will be thankful that he’s saving his body for Indian Wells, but his withdrawal is a tough blow for both the Davis Cup organization and fans of the historic event. How can it be considered a truly relevant, world-class competition if the top player in the world pulls out months before a highly anticipated tie? When fans see Spain vs. Switzerland in the draw, it’s reasonable for them to expect to see both Federer and Nadal participate. It’s also reasonable to be annoyed when this doesn’t happen. Perhaps what isn’t reasonable is expecting the players to compete for the Cup every year. I’m a big proponent for the every-two-years scenario. Let the defending champs take the Cup home and eat their oatmeal in it for a while.
So. . . I’m annoyed. But I’m also tired of the whole Roger Federer hates Davis Cup thing. Bah humbug, I say! What do you think?