France v Switzerland
The draw for the final has been done. It has been confirmed that Federer will play.
13:00 – Tsonga v Wawrinka
Head to heads are 4-2 to Tsonga and he leads 3-2 on clay. They haven’t played this season. Their last 4 meetings were on clay and all went to a final set. Only one of their 6 matches has not included a tie break.
Wawrinka won their most recent encounter which was in the quarter finals in Madrid in 2013.
On clay over the last 12 months their stats are quite similar. Tsonga has played more matches and won 71% of them whereas Wawrinka played just 8 matches, winning 5 of them. Tsonga’s serve was more effective and they were more or less even on return of serve.
Wawrinka may feel some pressure to get the win in the opening match as a Federer win over Monfils is far from certain. Home advantage is huge in Davis Cup and Tsonga usually responds well to home support.
Both teams feel their best surface is clay and the Swiss would also have gone for this surface had they been the home team. The Swiss are slight favourites on Betfair at 1.86 .
The match odds markets aren’t up as I write this but I would expect Wawrinka to start as slight favourite, perhaps 1.70 to 1.80 .. Despite their head to head record I would rate Wawrinka as the better clay courter. He would be likely to perform poorly in his own country as he really struggles with the weight of expectation in Switzerland and I expect him to cope well with the crowd being against him. tsonga hasn’t played since the Paris Masters 3 weeks ago and could take a few games to find his timing.
Wawrinka played well in two of his semi final at the O2 last weekend and should adapt quicker to being back on clay than Tsonga.
Wawrinka to win in 4 tight sets or we may see another 5 setter.
( Thanks for those who reminded me it is best of 5!!
Update: Wawrinka won in 4 sets. He lost concentration in the second set but other than that he was too strong for Tsonga.
Monfils v Federer
Head to heads are 8-2 to Federer and he leads 4-0 on clay. Their most recent meeting on clay was in 2011 at the French Open. Federer won in straight sets. In fact their last 3 meetings on clay were all at Roland Garros. Their 2008 match was the only time Monfils has taken a set from Federer on the dirt.
Their only recent matches have all been on hard courts. Federer won both matches in 2014 although Monfils pushed him to a deciding set both times. It was Monfils who won their only meeting in 2013 and they against went to a deciding set.
Hard courts level the playing field a little and if Monfils can serve well it allows him to stay in contention. Clay is another matter. The serve is less important and it comes down to patience and court craft which of course Federer possesses in abundance.
The only real doubt regarding a Federer win is his back injury. He pulled out of the World Tour Finals before his final against Djokovic because of an injury he picked up in his battle with Wawrinka the day before. He declared himself fit earlier today. No one except Federer knows how close to match fitness he is and I would say if this match was to be on a hard court he may struggle against Monfils.
On clay though and against an opponent who is also likely to be a little match rusty having not played for 3 weeks Federer should be able to get the job done.
Normally on clay you wouldn’t expect Federer to start above 1.20 but we will have to wait to see what his back problem does to the starting prices.
Update: Federer perhaps shouldn’t have played as he clearly wasn’t anywhere near his best. Credit to Monfils though who played an inspired match and won in straight sets.