Switzerland are taking on Belarus in the Davis Cup this weekend in a tie which is crucial not only for the future of the team but also for the coach, Jakob Hlasek.This content was published on July 21, 2000 - 18:51
The Swiss players go into the match in Sankt Gallen knowing that a loss will leave the team facing relegation from the world's top flight of tennis.
Their opponents are not to be under-rated. Belarus have two players in the top 70 of ATP world rankings. Max Mirnyi (ATP 59) is a serve-volley specialist while Vladimir Voltchkov (AP 69) is in fine form having reached the Wimbledon semi-final earlier this month.
The Swiss have been weakened by the withdrawal of their number one, Marc Rosset, who is involved in a long-running dispute with Hlasek. Rosset was stripped of his captaincy when Hlasek took charge of the team last year.
If the Swiss lose against Belarus, there could be a further confrontation between Rosset and Hlasek, analysts say. Rosset led most of the Davis Cup team in a revolt against Hlasek last year but support for him crumbled as the players prepared to face Australia in February.
After their narrow defeat against Australia, the Swiss now need a victory to stave off relegation.
Friday's matches see George Bastl taking on Mirnyi, and Roger Federer up against Voltchkov. The third member of the Swiss team is Michel Kratochvil.
The venue in Sankt Gallen strikes a chord in Swiss memories. The last time they played a Davis Cup tie there was in 1988 when the Swiss team lost 3-2 to Mexico and were relegated from the tennis top flight.
swissinfo with agencies
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