Fed’s (Davis) Cup runneth over

Roger Federer at the 2014 Australian Open. Photograph by Peter Myers

Roger Federer at the 2014 Australian Open. Photograph by Peter Myers

So Roger Federer and Switzerland finally have their Davis Cup.  Fed defeated Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 to win the opening singles match Sunday, Nov. 23 and give Switzerland the three matches (out of five) it needed against France.  

"It's not for me. I've won enough in my career and did not need to tick any empty boxes," Federer said of the emotional win.  "I'm just happy for everybody else. I'm happy we could live a great tennis historic moment in our country."

Yeah, uh-huh. Let’s not pull any punches here. Winning the Davis Cup was the only thing Federer hadn’t done in tennis. Tennis and thus, the Davis Cup may no longer be a big deal in this country, as American men’s tennis is somewhat in disarray. (If you want to see America win the Cup, check out my novel “Water Music,” part of “The Games Men Play” series, in which Iraqi-American prodigy Alí Iskandar delivers the goods.)

But tennis and the Cup are still a big deal internationally. With this win, Fed’s career is complete. It has to be satisfying, particularly as rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic helped the Spanish and Serbian teams respectively to Cups.

But Spain and Serbia have a lot of tennis depth. Switzerland has Feddy and Stan “the Man” Wawrinka. Credit “the Stanimal” with playing lights out against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga on Friday, then teaming with Fed to win the doubles Saturday.

But Stan did more than that. After Feddy lost Friday against a blazing Gael Monfils, who almost had him at the US Open but then collapsed, Stan carried his bags. It can’t be easy for Stan, who won the Australian Open this year, knocking out both Nole and Rafa, and rose to No. 4. With his stocky body, pockmarked skin and titanic temper, he exudes the animal magnetism of Richard Burton but lacks the sensual beauty of Rafa or the edgy one of Nole.

So you can imagine that the Stanimal nowhere begins to approximate the Olympian grace of Fed, who can’t help but be a teensy weensy bit noblesse oblige in his happiness for the little people. Remember, too, a week ago the Swiss men were facing a crisis with Fed’s bad back and Stan’s bruised ego, as Mrs. Fed, Mirka, had unkind words for him during his taut semifinal match against her husband in the disastrous ATP World Tour Finals. So give Stan credit for a gutsy performance against the French and for turning the other cheek.

I’m of two minds about the win: Gotta hand it to Fed. He has some sort of gift to be able to keep raising his game at age 33, despite a bad back. But there’s no question in my mind now that he deliberately sacrificed the ATP Finals – which he bowed out of, citing his bad back – for the chance to raise the Cup. What about the people who paid big money for the final? Granted, they didn’t know who would be playing at the end. But having reached the end, wasn’t Fed obligated to try and play?

And what about Nole, his opponent? Didn’t he owe him something as well?

The Federinas will tell you Fed acted honorably, he always acts honorably, he’s the GOAT, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. All’s right with their world again. So let them have their moment.

But I’m just saying.