COMMENTARY | Despite counting one of the all-time greats amongst its citizenry, the country of Switzerland has never won the international tennis competition called the Davis Cup.
With a population of around eight million people, Switzerland is obviously one of the smaller countries that competes in the annual event. However, the format of the competition can actually be conducive to teams that utilize a small group of talented players.
Novak Djokovic proved that in 2010 when he led the even smaller nation of Serbia, population roughly 7 1/2 million, to the title.
A Davis Cup tie, as head-to-head matchups between two countries are called, features five total matches -- four singles matches and one doubles match. However, the same two players can technically play all five of the contests.
The singles category features a country's top two players competing against the opposing country's top two players -- each plays the other one time. The two singles players may then be used in the doubles competition, although other team members (i.e. doubles specialists) may be used in this category, too. The team that wins at least three of the five matches moves forward to the next round.
After beating Rafael Nadal in last weekend's 2014 Australian Open final, Stan Wawrinka has emerged from that victory as the world's highest ranked player from Switzerland. Wawrinka is now ranked No. 3 in the world, while Roger Federer's ranking has dropped to No. 8.
Wawrinka is known to be a strong supporter of the Davis Cup and could serve as a new source of inspiration for the Swiss team's ongoing quest to win its first title. Stan the Man gave his everything in one of the country's recent ties against the Czech Republic when he was involved in what would become the longest match in the history of the event -- a heartbreaking, seven-hour loss.
Although Roger Federer has competed with the Swiss team in the past, members of his team, including Wawrinka, have previously questioned his dedication to the cause. Wawrinka made that clear in 2012 when, according to tennis.com, he said of Federer and the Davis Cup, "Roger has been saying for years that he wants to play the Davis Cup and it is important, but that's apparently not the case. It's a shame how he interprets things to suit his own opinion. Davis Cup is not a priority for him at the moment.
In the aftermath of that December 2012 comment, Federer did not appear for the Swiss team at all in 2013.
Although Stan was likely pleading for Federer to take a more active role in leading the team with those comments, the reality now is that Stan could probably take command of the team on his own.
Wawrinka recently dispatched both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in the same Grand Slam, a feat that Roger Federer has never matched. Wawrinka now also has nearly the same number of Grand Slam victories against Rafael Nadal (1) as Roger Federer does (2).
The amazing thing is that Federer and Wawrinka have found success in the past as doubles partners. They teamed up in 2008 to win Olympic gold in Beijing. With both of them now ranked in the top 10 in singles, one would think they would be a potent threat going forward in Davis Cup competition.
Obviously, such a mission would require absolute dedication from every key Swiss player, including one Roger Federer. At the age of 32, with two kids and more on the way, this may be a hard sell for the Swiss Maestro at this point in his career.
The Davis Cup, which used to be one of the top events in the game, has lost some prestige in recent years as the world's top players have focused more energy on their individual careers.
However, given the tremendous following that Roger Federer enjoys amongst tennis fans, such a run by the Swiss team would in all likelihood put the event back on the tennis map. There's absolutely no doubt that television ratings for the competition would significantly increase if Federer and Wawrinka closed in on their country's first title.
It's said that Roger Federer was one of the first to call and congratulate Stan Wawrinka after his victory over Nadal in Australia. Maybe Stan used that opportunity to start building his case for a fresh run at Swiss history.
Andrew Prochnow is a derivatives trader by day and a tennis buff by night. Tweet him at @AndrewProchnow.
- Sports & Recreation
- Roger Federer
- Rafael Nadal
- Stan Wawrinka
- Novak Djokovic
- Davis Cup