LILLE, France (AFP) – For a player who had just endured his worst ever Davis Cup defeat on Friday, Roger Federer sounded surprisingly upbeat.
Clobbered 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 by fiery Frenchman Gael Monfils, the 33-year-old Swiss champion opted to dismiss the downsides and ponder the positives.
Sidelined by a bad back for the five days leading into his first rubber in a Davis Cup final, Federer said he was listening to his body as Monfils bombarded him from all angles.
“From my side, I mean, as the match went on, I just started to loosen up,” he said.
“I guess I needed to hit 30 big serves, I needed to slide, I needed to be in defence, I needed to play offensive tennis, get information quickly.
“He did well to get the lead, then he was able to stretch the lead early in the second set.
“I think that’s when I finally – because I wasn’t playing for the score so much, I was playing to get back into the match, I had the info I was looking for – started to relax a little bit and started to feel better as the match went on.”
More than the physical, it was the psychological side of things that was the problem for Federer, who has had a history of back pain throughout his career.
It is something, he says he has learned to live and play with over the course of the years.
“If you have a back issue, it’s just one of those feelings you feel uncomfortable,” he said.
“You don’t have to be in unbelievably excruciating pain, but it takes a while for it to leave your mind. It’s like a ghost, it’s there, Whoa, be careful.
“But that’s why it was good for me to play three sets today. Definitely gives us a lot of information.”
That information will now be used by Federer and Swiss captain Severin Luthi to decide who will play in Saturday’s doubles and Sunday’s reverse singles with the final delicately poised at 1-1.
As it stands, the French pair of Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet are scheduled to go up against Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer on Saturday, with Federer and Wawrinka down for Sunday play.
Wawrinka’s impressive four sets defeat of French number one Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could see him back in action in doubles with Federer saying he will do whatever is asked of him.