The Monday Slice: Federer's Davis Cup absence


Roger Federer could appear in public being pushed along in a wheelchair and still not be able to convince many his reported back injury is a serious problem.

When the world No. 2 revealed he would be forced to pull out of Switzerland's visit to the United States this week, it appeared to be yet another case of Davis Cup-itis.

Federer has not played in the opening round of the competition since 2004 and may not ever again, as the March scheduling does not fit neatly into his schedule.

Yet could the Swiss master's mental meltdown at the Australian Open be another reason why he is delaying his return to competitive action?

The demands of excellence that Federer places upon himself are an almighty burden to shoulder. Until recently, the Swiss master was able to match his own expectations.

However, the extraordinary feats being performed by Rafael Nadal have clearly shaken Federer, who broke down in tears after being worn down in the Aussie Open final.

The chase for a record-tying 14th Grand Slam title is of paramount importance to Federer, though when he finishes his career the absence of Davis Cup success may be a sizeable blot.

With Stanislas Wawrinka on the team, Switzerland could have been a legitimate threat for the past several seasons.

Instead, Federer has stepped in when it was too late, normally helping his country avoid demotion from the World Group.

In his current and somewhat fragile mental state, playing as part of a team in the Davis Cup might have been the last thing Federer wanted.

But one day he may look back and reminisce about what might have been, had he cared enough to get involved.


Tennis and politics will sadly mix once more this week as Sweden takes on Israel in a Davis Cup tie in Malmo. While the game will be played in front of empty stands, with fans banned from attending, about 12,000 are expected outside the Baltic Hall to protest against Israel's offensive in Gaza.

Concerted attempts to disrupt play are likely and about 1,000 police from seven countries have been drafted in, ensuring extra international media attention will be focused upon what would otherwise have been a nondescript tie.


The Czech city of Ostrava is the scene for perhaps the most interesting of the week's Davis Cup ties as the Czech Republic hosts France. The home side will be the underdog but with Radek Stepanek in strong form, could push the high-quality French squad all the way.


Tennis fans will have another chance to see one of the sport's all-time greats when Andre Agassi suits up for the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis in the summer. The eight-time Grand Slam champion will join Venus Williams on the Philly team for matches July 10 and 17.


Barclays Tennis Championships, Dubai: Novak Djokovic

International Tennis Championships, Delray Beach: Mardy Fish

Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco: Nicolas Almagro

Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco: Venus Williams


Davis Cup: Argentina 5, Holland 0; Czech Republic 2, France 3; United States 4, Switzerland 1; Croatia 5, Chile 0; Sweden 1, Israel 4; Romania 1, Russia 4; Germany 3, Austria 2; Spain 4, Serbia 1.