GENEVA (AP) — Lacking a Davis Cup title on his career record, Roger Federer leads Switzerland into its first semifinal in 11 years against Italy on Friday.
Federer, now ranked No. 3 after his run to the US Open semifinals, will open the series against 76th-ranked Simone Bolelli.
Fourth-ranked Stan Wawrinka follows against 17th-ranked Fabio Fognini on a hard court at the Palexpo indoor arena.
Switzerland is strongly favored to continue Federer’s best — perhaps even last — chance at lifting a trophy his nation has also never won.
“This tie obviously is the focus right now,” said Federer, who typically plays down the team event’s importance, after Thursday’s draw. “But after that I still have some big tournaments coming up.”
In Saturday’s doubles, Federer and Wawrinka, the 2008 Olympic champions, are scheduled to face Andreas Seppi and Paolo Lorenzi.
The reverse singles are Sunday, with Federer vs. Fognini and Wawrinka vs. Bolelli.
The winner will plays France or two-time defending champion Czech Republic in the final, scheduled Nov. 21-23.
Federer did acknowledge his anticipation at playing in front of daily, 18,000 sold-out crowds of typically noisy home fans.
“It’s a record crowd for Switzerland I can’t wait for that to happen,” said Federer, who helped the Swiss beat Kazakhstan 3-2 in the previous round in April, when the same venue held 16,000.
In 2003, Federer had won only the first of his record 17 Grand Slam singles titles — at that year’s Wimbledon — when Switzerland lost a Davis Cup semifinal in Australia.
That defeat was sealed on Federer’s loss to Lleyton Hewitt in a 5-setter in the fourth rubber of the series.
Switzerland beat Italy 3-2 thanks to Federer and Wawrinka’s singles victories when the teams last met, in a World Group playoff five years ago which the Italians hosted on clay courts in Genoa.
Italy won its only Davis Cup title in 1976.
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