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Swiss tennis aces take the upper hand over Belgium

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Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka have posted two victories in Lausanne in their effort to lead Switzerland back into the elite tennis Davis Cup World Group.

This content was published on September 19, 2008 - 20:06

US Open champion Federer, now ranked second behind Spain's Rafael Nadal, on Friday defeated 95th-ranked Kristof Vliegen 7-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Earlier in the afternoon, Wawrinka, ranked number nine in the world, eventually won Friday's opening singles match against Belgium's 58th-ranked Steve Darcis 6-7, 6-1, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

The players swap opponents for the final two singles matches on Sunday.

Switzerland are now 2-0 in the best-of-five play-off.

Federer and Wawrinka – who won gold at the Beijing Olympic Games in August and are playing together for the first time in the Davis Cup – will face Olivier Rochus and Xavier Malisse in Saturday's doubles game.

The occasion marks the first time Federer has played before a home crowd this year.

Personal history

The Belgian duo present Federer with some personal history. As a 17-year-old in 1999, Federer lost both his Davis Cup singles matches – including one to Malisse – as the Swiss team fell 3-2 in the quarterfinals in Brussels.

"I don't have any good memories of that match," Federer said. "I've waited a long time for revenge."

Federer and Rochus are friends from their days on the junior circuit. They teamed up to win the boys' doubles at Wimbledon in 1998, when Federer also won the boys' singles.

"I've known Roger since we were, like, 13," Rochus said. "Sometimes we shared the same room."

The 27-year-old Rochus said he was not surprised that Federer turned a rare appearance in the doubles into a gold medal at Beijing.

"When it was important in the Olympics he played once and he won it," the Belgian said. "That proves he is the best player in the world. He can do anything with the ball."

Teamwork

Federer said he hoped to relive the Olympic experience he shared with Wawrinka.

"We were a really nice team," he said. "Stan played great doubles over there."

Switzerland reached the playoff stage earlier in the year after victories against Poland and Belarus in the Europe/Africa zonal group without Federer when he was recovering from the effects of glandular fever.

"I have to thank also at this stage my team members who actually did the hard work for me to allow me to come back and get back into the World Group," Federer said.

Belgium lost to the Czech Republic in February.

swissinfo with agencies

The Davis Cup

The Davis Cup is the top international team event in men's tennis. In 2005, 134 nations entered the competition.

There are five "leagues", the top being the World Group of 16 nations who compete for the cup. The four-round World Group knockout competition is spread over four weekends during the year. Each tie between competing nations is held in one of the countries.

Teams, which comprise four players, are seeded based on a ranking system released by the International Tennis Federation, taking into account previous years' results.

In September 2007 a Federer-led Switzerland lost a play-off with the Czech Republic and were relegated to the Europe/Africa Zone Group I, a place they had not been in since 1994.

Switzerland has never won the Davis Cup, which is currently held by the United States. It has reached the finals once, in 1992, when it lost to the United States.

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