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Coaching from a distance

Switzerland's new Davis Cup coach Peter Carter will be keeping his distance from the team during this weekend's first round tie in Russia with competition rules preventing the Australian from stepping on court.

This content was published on February 5, 2002 - 18:53

With more than a year to go until he receives his Swiss residency papers, Carter cannot be officially named as the country's Davis Cup captain. Instead the Australian has taken five players to Moscow, one of whom will sit on the bench as a stand-in captain this weekend.

Married to a Swiss and based in the country for the past nine years, Carter's request to captain the national team was far from a frivolous one. But the International Tennis Federation (ITF) ruled that he could only take up the post once his permit comes though.

Disappointed

"I was disappointed on a personal level," Carter told swissinfo, "because it was something I really wanted to do, to be a part of the team. But I'm not surprised that the ITF chose to stick by the rules.

"Most of the work is done ahead of the actual matches anyway, but I'll be talking to the players involved and to whichever player sits on the chair about what tactics we're looking for. I'm not saying that the on-court role isn't important but the main part of my job will be in generating the sort of atmosphere where the players can perform at their best."

Playing in Moscow, on clay and against a Russian side that includes Australian Open finalist Marat Safin and Olympic champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the Swiss are certainly expected to find the going tough.

Federer in form

Swiss hopes are once again likely to rest mainly with rising star Roger Federer who has already reached two ATP finals this year, winning the Sydney Open in January before losing in Milan at the weekend.

"It's going to be a very tough match," Carter admitted. "Roger's had a great start to the year, though, and Michel Kratochvil's also had a good last six months. The Russians may be higher in the world rankings, but the Davis Cup is a different sort of match and I think it will just come down to who's best on the day."

While the world rankings suggest that the Swiss will be clear outsiders in Moscow, the country's Davis Cup team might take some comfort from history with Switzerland possessing a 2-0 record in the competition against the then-Soviet Union.

In Donetzk 15 years ago, the Swiss enjoyed a 3-2 victory (again on clay) to secure promotion to the Davis Cup's top division. In 1991 current team member Marc Rosset was in the side that again celebrated a 3-2 win, this time in Davos.

A similar achievement in Moscow might even help the Swiss team divert some attention away from the Winter Olympics which also get underway this weekend. Not that the country's Australian coach is taking much note of events in Salt Lake City.

"No-one's really been talking about the Olympics out here," Carter said. "Some Swiss journalists are coming out here, so it could be on their minds, but I think the players just want to concentrate on what they have to do here."

by Mark Ledsom

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