Despite a speedy recovery from a back injury to make it back for the Davis Cup final, Roger Federer looked a shadow of himself in a straight-sets loss to Gael Monfils as France levelled the tie at 1-1 on Friday.
Monfils triumphed 6-1 6-4 6-3 and posted his first win on clay over the 17-time Grand Slam champion, who decided to play despite the injury that forced him to pull out of the title match at the ATP Finals last Sunday.
Federer had only two short training sessions earlier this week and looked out of sorts while Monfils hit 44 winners including 10 aces. The Swiss, who is chasing a maiden win in the team competition, dropped his serve five times and could not convert the two break points he earned.
It was a stark contrast to Federer’s superb display in London last week, where he eased past opponents but hurt his back during his semi-final victory over Davis Cup team-mate Stan Wawrinka.
Monfils sealed his win in less than two hours on his first match point with a backhand down the line, getting a measure of revenge after his tough loss to Federer in the quarter-finals at the US Open in September. At Flushing Meadows, Monfils lost in five sets after going up two sets to one and failing to convert two match points.
Earlier, Wawrinka had put the Swiss ahead by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-2, which left the Frenchman upset by a lack of support from his home crowd.
Saturday’s doubles are set to pit French pair Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet against Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer. But if Federer is judged fit enough to play over three days, he is expected to be picked for the doubles alongside Wawrinka.