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Swiss sack Davis Cup captain

Poor relations with Federer (left) appear to have cost Hlasek his job Keystone

The Swiss tennis association has announced the dismissal of Davis and Fed Cup captain Jakob Hlasek, just one month after the coach received a vote of no confidence from rising teenage star, Roger Federer.

Hlasek’s contract with the association was due to run until 2005 but on Thursday he was told that his services would no longer be needed after the end of the current season.

During his year and a half in charge of the men’s and women’s national teams, the 37-year-old coach has been plagued by a number of rows and withdrawals by Switzerland’s top players. After Thursday’s announcement, Swiss Tennis president Christine Ungricht admitted that Federer’s threatened boycott had played a major role in Hlasek’s departure.

“The decision wasn’t based purely on player power,” Ungricht told swissinfo. “But the association has goals, and one of those is to field the best possible professional teams. At the moment such a team would clearly have to include Roger Federer.”

As well as Federer’s recent mutiny, Hlasek had to contend with his disgruntled former doubles partner Marc Rosset who refused to play under Hlasek until a reconciliation was forced in April. Women’s world number one Martina Hingis also ruled herself out of Fed Cup action, citing her heavy commitments on the WTA Tour.

Nevertheless, Hlasek has achieved a high standard of success in purely sporting terms. This season saw the Swiss Davis Cup team overcome the United States in the tournament’s opening round before suffering the narrowest of defeats against a strong French side in the quarter-finals.

In the Fed Cup, Hlasek also helped a relatively weak women’s side comfortably hold on to their position in the competition’s ranking system. In July Hlasek is due to captain the team in their tie against Australia, a tie which is likely to be his last in charge of Switzerland.

“The association is happy with Hlasek’s work,” Ungricht insisted. “From our point of view he was the right man for the job. But the captain must also be able to work with the team and with individual players.”

Ungricht added that the tennis association planned to consult with the players before appointing a successor to Hlasek.

It seems that personnel skills are likely to feature heavily in the job description.

by Mark Ledsom

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR