GENEVA (AP) — Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka took Switzerland close to its first Davis Cup final in 22 years after cruising to straight-sets wins in the opening singles against Italy on Friday.
First, Federer beat 76th-ranked Simone Bolelli 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 without dropping serve to delight a crowd of more than 18,000 at Palexpo indoor arena.
Wawrinka, the Australia Open champion, followed up by beating Italian No. 1 Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in just 90 minutes.
“A very good match — for once,” Wawrinka joked in an on-court interview after a rare easy win for him in Davis Cup. “It’s the ideal start but there remains a match to win.”
Federer and Wawrinka have a chance Saturday to give the hosts an unassailable 3-0 series lead and send Switzerland to its first final since losing to a superstar United States lineup in 1992. The Swiss have never won the title.
The 2008 Olympic doubles gold medalists are scheduled to face Italian pair Andreas Seppi and Paolo Lorenzi. If needed, Federer would play Fognini in the first reverse singles match Sunday.
In the other semifinal series, France leads the two-time defending champion Czech Republic 2-0.
Federer talked this week of his anticipation to play in front of so many home fans — the second biggest attendance in world tennis, he said. The Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows holds more than 22,000.
He was rarely under pressure and took the only break-point chances he needed midway through the second set and early in the third.
“I had to wait for a while to get my first break,” Federer said. “After that it was easy to play with the lead but it was a tough match, as the score suggests.”
Bolelli hit more winners than Federer — 33 to 30 — but failed to convert any of his three break chances.
“Not being broken (on serve) is always a great thing. That’s what most pleased me,” said Federer, who improved to 36-7 in Davis Cup singles, including 15-1 on hard courts.
The first set went with serve to the tiebreaker, and Federer took his third set point with a flat backhand across the court which Bolelli could not handle.
The Swiss No. 1 took his first chance to break for a 4-3 lead in the second. He raced in behind a strong return and pressured Bolelli into netting a forehand.
Serving for the set, Federer saved two break chances before taking his fifth chance to clinch with a high volley winner.
A fortunate net cord for Federer, barely creeping on to the Italian’s side of the court, clinched an early and decisive break in the third.
Federer double-faulted on his first match point, then clinched with a forehand winner at the net.
Fourth-ranked Wawrinka simply out-hit Fognini, winning the aces count 16-0 and 37-14 in total winners.
The 17th-ranked Italian also had eight double faults, including on Wawrinka’s first set point in the opener.
Wawrinka raced through the final game, clinching on a service winner.
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