But there was one major clash between nations that did not live up to expectations, and did not even come close to what many anticipated. That, of course, was the battle between Spain and Switzerland. When those two countries were drawn to play each other, everyone relished the thought of a Sunday afternoon collision featuring the game’s two best players. What could possibly surpass Roger Federer facing Rafael Nadal in the opening round of the Davis Cup?
I will not join the critics. Federer had every right to not play Davis Cup. Why? Because the scheduling of the event is ludicrous. How can you ask the world No. 1 to be ready to perform at peak level less than two weeks after capturing the season’s first Grand Slam event in Melbourne? Federer has a serious chance this year at the height of his powers to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the Grand Slam. The key to his 2006 campaign— when he made it to all four major finals and won three of the premier prizes— was pacing himself superbly.
I am sure his thinking was much the same this time around with Davis Cup. He has a demanding year ahead of him and needs to make certain to be fresh and fit for all of the Grand Slam events. To play Davis Cup so soon after Australia would have been foolish. Like all top players, Federer has to pick and choose his commitments very carefully. He made the best possible decision when he elected not to represent Switzerland this time around. Had there been an extra week or two to recover from the campaign “Down Under”, Federer might well have been there for his nation.
So don’t blame Roger Federer; blame the schedule. It is time for the powers that be to rethink the whole concept of Davis Cup. The tradition of home and away ties has tremendous appeal, but to spread four World Group rounds out over the course of a year is not a good game plan. The time has come once and for all to play the Davis Cup at one site every year over a two to three week period. The public would have a much easier time following it. The players would get much more excited about performing. Everyone would benefit.
In the meantime, don’t criticize Roger Federer. He did what he needed to do and protected himself for the rest of 2007. He was demonstrating once more what a remarkable professional he is.
The above article was taken from Steve’s BLOG, posted Monday, February 12, 2007