GENEVA (AP) — Roger Federer got the day off on Saturday, and now he needs to play on Sunday to help Switzerland advance to its first Davis Cup final in 22 years.
Without Federer, who was rested, Switzerland lost in doubles to Italy and had its lead cut to 2-1 in their semifinal.
The Swiss paired Stan Wawrinka with Marco Chiudinelli instead, and they lost 7-5, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 against Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli at Palexpo indoor arena.
“Roger suggested that he should not play just because he had a lot of matches this year,” Swiss captain Severin Luethi said.
Federer, who played in the U.S. Open semifinals last weekend, won his team’s first point on Friday by beating Bolelli in straight sets.
The Swiss No. 1 can clinch victory in the tie against Fognini in Sunday’s opening reverse singles.
“He’s going to be fresh, and it’s an advantage for us,” Luethi said.
France awaits in the final on Nov. 21-23 after it swept to a winning 3-0 lead against two-time defending champion Czech Republic in Paris on Saturday.
Switzerland’s loss in doubles might have pleased more than 18,000 Sunday ticket-holders who will see their No. 1 play with a finals place on the line.
“It is great for the Swiss fans and I am happy for them,” said Wawrinka, who will play Bolelli in a decider if Federer loses.
“The positive thing is we are up 2-1,” said Wawrinka, the Australian Open champion. “We are not worried for tomorrow.”
Federer’s absence did not surprise the Italians, who recalled he also skipped doubles when the teams last met in a 2009 World Group playoff.
“For us, it was still very tough today,” Bolelli said. “It’s still complicated but anything can happen.”
Watched by Federer, the Swiss pair seemed in control until losing serve to trail 4-2 in the fourth set.
In the decider, the Italians broke Chiudinelli’s serve for a 2-1 lead and held off Swiss pressure to hold in the next game. On Fognini’s serve, Italy took its third match-point chance when Bolelli put away an overhead at the net.
The 3-hour, 57-minute five-setter was nothing unusual for the Wawrinka-Chiudinelli pairing on this court.
They were involved in the longest doubles match in Davis Cup history at Palexpo in February 2013. Then, the Swiss lost 24-22 in the deciding set after a 7-hour, 1-minute marathon against Czech pair Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol.
Switzerland has never won the Davis Cup and reached its only final in 1992, losing to a United States team of Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, John McEnroe and Pete Sampras.
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