Switzerland's tennis stars will have to contest a playoff to maintain their Davis Cup world group status after narrowly losing their first round tie against Russia.This content was published on February 10, 2002 - 21:33
Following an impressive singles victory by Roger Federer on Sunday over world number four Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the Swiss team found themselves level with Russia at 2-2 going into the fifth and final match of the weekend.
But Swiss number two Michel Kratochvil was unable to complete the miracle, losing in straight sets (6-1, 7-6, 6-4) to Australian Open finalist Marat Safin.
It was a hard loss for Kratochvil as it was his most important match to date in the Davis Cup. "I played a good match against Kafelnikov. I did my part for the team," he said after the match.
"Roger made two points and I absolutely wanted this one, but I wasn't hitting the ball as clean and hard as on Friday," he added.
Safin's victory was enough to send Russia into the next round of the 2002 Davis Cup. It was his first Davis Cup singles win in five matches and his third win in a decisive fifth rubber.
Testing times ahead
Switzerland now have to play in the Davis Cup World Groups Qualifying Round in September, which will determine if the nation continues to play in the World Group next year. The team will find out its opponent at the draw, which will take place on April 10.
Russia will play Sweden in the quarterfinals, following their 3-2 victory over Great Britain in Birmingham, which will be played in Moscow.
swissinfo with agencies