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Sunday, February 12, 2012

US stuns Switzerland as Federer, Wawrinka both lose

By MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE

FRIBOURG, Switzerland – The visiting US stunned Switzerland with a 2-0 lead on opening day of their Davis Cup World Group first round tie on Friday as both Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka went down to defeat.

Mardy Fish began living up to his national number-one standing as he defeated the 28th-ranked Wawrinka 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 9-7 to give the visitors an unexpected start.

But it was John Isner’s comeback win over Federer 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 which truly shocked a crowd of partisans who filled the Forum Fribourg for what had been expected to be a winning weekend over the under-done Americans.

The 32-times champion US lead the series 2-1. But the once-powerful nation has lifted only one Davis trophy in the past 16 years. The visitors came without injured Andy Roddick and doubles player Bob Bryan, whose wife just had a baby.

Wawrinka went down in four and a half hours to Fish. “He did everything to win,” said the beaten Swiss, who added that the winner “played more aggressively in the fifth set.”

Wawrinka had been hoping to play the hero’s role, which he performed in September when he scored the win over Lleyton Hewitt, thus returning the Swiss to the World Group.

Wawrinka saved match points in the tenth and last games of the final set but was unable to hold off world number eight Fish as the American produced a winner on his third opportunity.

Fish finished the slug-fest on clay with 15 aces to 10 for Wawrinka and fired 93 winner to 80 for the Swiss. “To beat Stan is a good win,” said Fish. “Clay is his best surface, his favorite surface and he’s at home.”

Federer won the opening set against Isner but then was unable to impose on the big man, with the American sweeping the last three sets with 14 aces and 34 winners. World number three Federer was hampered on break points, converting only one of a dozen.

The Saturday doubles now becomes a must-win for the Swiss, tipped as a force at this year’s tournament with Federer on board.

In Nis, 2010 champion Serbia, missing Novak Djokovic, took a 2-0 lead over underpowered Sweden, which is missing top man Robin Soderling through illness.

Janko Tipsarevic started the tie off with a victory over Filip Prpic 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. Viktor Troicki then beat Michael Ryderstedt 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3

Last year’s finalist Argentina got the early jump on Germany, with Juan Monaco thrashing Philipp Petzschner 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The host nation then claimed a 2-0 lead from David Nalbandian’s win against Florian Mayer 2-6, 6-0, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).

On clay indoors at Oviedo, veteran Juan Carlos Ferrero put Spain into 1-0 command as he beat Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 6-4 in a four-and-a-half-hour struggle.

Over-30 Radek Stepanek recovered in Ostrava, beating Italy’s Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 for a 1-0 lead to the Czech Republic. Austria lead Russia after Juergen Melzer started with a defeat of Igor Kunitsyn 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.

Japan and Croatia stood level at 1-1 after the opening day, with Go Soeda unstoppable against Ivan Dodig 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5. Croatian Ivo Karlovic surprised Japan’s rising star Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.