Switzerland pull back in Davis Cup

Swiss player Roger Federer reacts to winning a point at the third Davis cup semi-final Keystone

Roger Federer and Lorenzo Manta have won their doubles rubber against France's Cédric Pioline and Fabrice Santoro to put Switzerland back in contention on day two of the Davis Cup quarter-final tie.

This content was published on April 7, 2001 - 19:05

The victory was perhaps most sweet for Manta, who tucked his ninth Davis Cup doubles win - and the fourth win alongside Federer - under his belt.

"This victory was the most rewarding," Manta said after the match, "it was a very tight game but the atmosphere was fantastic."

Switzerland needed all the support the Neuchatel home crowd could give, as they struggled to take control of the match.

A couple of rare errors at the net by Roger Federer helped France's doubles team of Cédric Pioline and Fabrice Santoro, take the first set 7-5.

Switzerland, already two rubbers down following Friday's singles, then appeared to be in deep trouble after another Federer mistake saw France grab an early break in the second set.

But Federer and Manta fought back impressively, breaking Pioline's serve in the sixth game. That game proved decisive, and the Swiss duo managed to capitalise on the break point and hold their serve to win the set 6-3.

It was Lorenzo Manta who appeared to really come into his own in the third set, serving up sneaky sideline shots and a number of aces. He proved once again to be a valuable partner in the Swiss Davis Cup doubles team, confidently putting away shots the formidable French team threw at him.

Federer and Manta seemed to find their own rythmn again and, bolstered by an enthusiastic home crowd who were so eager to see the two win, they clinched the third set on tie-break, 6-4.

The fourth set ended in another tie-break, but this time it was the French who triumphed to take the match into a deciding fifth set.

Proof of just how evenly matched the teams were came in the fifth and final set when after fourteen games the score remained level at 7-7. The crucial moment in the marathon 64-minute set came when Switzerland succeeded in breaking their opponents' serve to take the fifteenth game and steal an 8-7 lead.

The Frenchmen were unable to fight back as Federer and Manta held their serve to take the final game, set and match.

Despite Saturday's win, Switzerland still trails France 2-1 and needs to win both singles matches on Sunday to book a place in the semi-finals against the Netherlands.

The Swiss number one, Federer, told swissinfo that Saturday's win was important preparation for his Sunday singles rubber: "For me the match was very special because after my performance on Friday I was not sure how the spectators were going to react. The public was really great to me and that makes me look forward even more to my singles match on Sunday."

Federer is up against world number one Arnaud Clément while Marc Rosset is set to take on Nicolas Escudé.

Switzerland has now reduced France's lead to 2-1, however the Swiss have never overturned such a deficit to win a Davis Cup tie.

by Samantha Tonkin, Neuchatel

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