Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka are off to a good start, in their first doubles pairing since taking the gold against the Bryan brothers in 2008 in Beijing. In the main draw of the doubles together at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, the Swiss team obliterated the tested major doubles winners Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor, who recently paired after Nestor split from long time patner, Serbian Nenad Zimonjic, with whom he had won 3 major titles. Zimonjic and Nestor represented the stiffest competition in doubles for the Bryan brothers over recent years and were widely considered no worse than #2 and perhaps even the best doubles pair in the men’s game while together. Nestor also enjoyed immense success with Mark Knowles, with whom he also won 3 major titles with on the men’s side. Mirnyi is a 4 time major doubles champion and a 3 time major mixed champion, winning two titles with Serena Williams and one with Victoria Azarenka.
The new team of Mirnyi and Nestor went to the semi-finals in Melbourne at their first major together, and recently in Memphis, they took home their first hardware. But on the soft as clay slow Plexicushion of IW, the new team was no match for Roger and Stan, who thoroughly dominated on the way to a 6-1, 6-2 victory. Federer and Wawrinka will face crafty Frenchmen Benneteau and Gasquet in the round of 16, and could possibly face defending champs Nadal/Lopez in the semis, though a matchup with Wimbledon champs Melzer/Petzschner possibly looms for the Spaniards.
As for Federer announcing his first Davis Cup participation since a fairly meaningless go round with the Italians in 2009, we can’t claim that little old us had anything to do with it, but the Fed D.C. word did come a few days after we had taken Rog to task for his lack of participation:
Again, we get it. Federer is the all time mens singles major champion with the Swiss flag behind him, so what does it matter that he doesn’t have a DC title? A tennis purist would say it does matter some. There is no definitive greatest player of all time, and everyone from Borg to McEnroe, Sampras, and Nadal have won the DC, and in most cases, had at least one title they were the impetus behind. The only greats we can think of that have not won the Davis Cup are the ultra selfish and loutish Jimmy Connors, and Federer. Perhaps Federer, like Connors did, will feel the hole in his immortal resume, and come back to Davis Cup in his twilight years. And unlike Connors, Federer is great enough to pull off such a thing and win a late DC title, maybe even into his early 30′s. Maybe Federer has lost a bit of his ‘major edge’ because he isn’t as tested in Davis Cup lately and in the best of 5 set format as the last 3 guys who have beaten him at majors, Soderling, Berdych, and Djokovic.
Yeah, we didn’t want to make too much of it, but we’ve been quietly directing Roger’s career for some time, if you must know. The Annacone hire, now the return to Davis Cup and to tour doubles competition…what purist wouldn’t be happy?
Federer needs to keep his head here at IW in the coming days when it comes to his singles draw. With wins over Andreev tomorrow and then the Chela/Petzschner winner, and if Canadian budding super-star Milos Raonic, holding firm at world #37 and fresh off his first ever Masters Series match win yesterday, can defeat Mardy Fish tomorrow for the 2nd time in 3 weeks and then take the winner of Ryan Harrison/GG Lopez, then Federer and Raonic would meet in the round of 16.
Not that we are worried, but in our honest assessment, Raonic is already a big time player and is definitely the best North American youngster to come up through Canada or America since Andy Roddick did 10 years ago. Much more on Raonic to follow, and we’ll pay particular attention to a Federer/Raonic matchup, should we be lucky enough to see that come off.
Federer and Raonic will both play in televised matches Sunday on The Tennis Channel.