Federer calls on 2001 Davis Cup emotion to face US

Roger Federer hopes to recapture the emotion of Switzerland’s

2001 Davis Cup victory over the United States when they meet again

in the first round this weekend.

Federer recalled that Swiss win on Tuesday, when as a teenager

exactly 11 years ago he went unbeaten in a 3-2 victory in his home

city of Basel.

”I think it was my first emotional outburst on a tennis court

because I was so exhausted on Sunday after winning singles, doubles

and singles,” Federer said.

Now 30, Federer said that performance, against a U.S. team led

by Todd Martin, ”definitely got me in winning ways.” Several

months later at Wimbledon he beat four-time defending champion Pete

Sampras in the fourth round.

”It was a start of great things for me and I’m happy playing

America again,” said Federer, who will line up in Friday’s singles

with Stanislas Wawrinka against Mardy Fish and John Isner.

Despite Federer owning a record 16 Grand Slam singles titles, a

Davis Cup trophy is rare tennis honor to elude him.

Federer has skipped the first round of the Davis Cup since 2004,

and facing the Americans has caused major changes in his program.

He hasn’t played on clay so early in the season since 2004 in

Romania.

On a bitter minus-7 degree Celsius (20 degree Fahrenheit) day in

Fribourg, it was perhaps easier to understand why Federer last

played a February match in Europe seven years ago.

His typical schedule following the Australian Open involves

practice and a single tournament in Dubai, where he has a home.

Federer renewed his Davis Cup commitment by traveling to

Australia last September for a World Group playoff that was

clinched by Wawrinka. His five-set win over Lleyton Hewitt was

halted in the Sunday twilight and completed Monday.

”It’s only normal for me to play the first round after that

heroic effort of his,” Federer said.

The third-ranked Swiss said he’s in ”a good state mentally and

physically” after his semifinal loss to Rafael Nadal in

Melbourne.

”I’ve had a great run since last year’s U.S. Open and haven’t

lost until just the other week,” he said. ”The transition to clay

has been somewhat easy. Clay is good on the body.”

Federer helped choose the slow indoor surface several months ago

to play on a perceived weakness of the American team.

”It’s the best surface to play the United States and we think

it will be a small advantage for us,” Switzerland captain Severin

Luethi said.

U.S. captain Jim Courier was content with court conditions,

after practices suggested the balls fly faster at Fribourg’s

altitude of about 600 meters (2,000 feet).

”It’s playing the way we would want it to play,” Courier

said.

Fish has a career 1-7 record against Federer, though they have

never met on clay.

”For a bunch of years he’s been head and shoulders the second

best (clay-court) player behind Rafa and has beaten him,” the

eighth-ranked Fish said. ”Clay is obviously one of his strengths.

But he’s got his work cut out in the first match, as do I.”

Fish is likely to play in Saturday’s doubles – against Olympic

champions Federer and Wawrinka – with Mike Bryan, whose brother and

regular partner Bob is at home after the birth of his daughter last

week.

”I’ve only played with one other person in the last 10 years

and that was Mardy Fish, and we have good memories,” Bryan said,

recalling a five-set win against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez and

Fernando Verdasco in a 2008 Davis Cup semifinal.

Isner acknowledged that the U.S. start as underdogs, adding that

he relished the challenge.

”It’s not the easiest match, that’s for sure. But we’re

definitely capable of coming here, playing well and hopefully

getting out of here with a win,” Isner said. ”All of us cherish

that … to play for these guys, play for captain Courier and play

for your country. It’s really an honor.”

Courier predicted a friendlier rivalry than the confrontational

1992 final when he helped a stellar U.S. lineup beat the Swiss in

Fort Worth, Texas.

”I expect it will be a very friendly, competitive and

gentlemanly contest between our teams,” Courier said.