| Swiss Georges Bastl (left) pours champagne on teammate Roger Federer after the latter’s 6-1, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Frenchman Fabrice Santoro Sunday. (AFP)
London: Stunned France joined champions Russia in the Davis Cup doldrums on Sunday, completing a disastrous weekend for the tournament’s top two seeds.
Guy Forget’s battlers — champions in 2001 and runners-up to Russia in last year’s dramatic showpiece — were pounded into submission by neighbours Switzerland, inspired by a faultless Roger Federer.
The stylish Swiss lionheart won all three matches in which he featured, ripping into Fabrice Santoro in the fourth rubber on Sunday to secure the visitors’ victory 6-1, 6-0, 6-2 and clinch the tie in Toulouse. Federer had on Saturday teamed up with his captain Marc Rosset to win the doubles and had beaten Nicolas Escude on Friday to almost singlehandedly secure victory and a semi-final spot against Australia.
For the Swiss, Federer’s victory means only a second semi-final appearance since the world group was formed in 1981.
They will travel to Australia in September for a chance to reach the final for the second time in their tennis history.
Australia — led by world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt — booked their semi-final spot with ease, walloping Sweden 5-0 in Malmo.
While Mark Philippoussis beat Magnus Norman 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, Wayne Arthurs got the better of Joachim Johansson 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4). Swedish stalwart Magnus Larsson announced his retirement from the sport after the tie.
In the bottom half of the draw, the Cup was unceremoniously wrenched from Russia’s grip by a dogged Argentine effort.
Russia meekly surrendered their trophy 5-0. The champions found themselves 2-0 down after the opening day when Yevgeny Kafelnikov lost to Gaston Gaudio and Nikolay Davydenko lost to David Nalbandian. Kafelnikov and Mikhail Youzhny and lost the crunch doubles to Nalbandian and Lucas Arnold and, with it, the tie.
Mariano Zabaleta beat Youzhny 6-1, 6-4 for 4-0 and Gaudio completed the rout beating Davydenko 7-6, 6-3.
For Argentina, the victory was sweet revenge after falling to the Russians in the semi-finals last year. This time they will travel to Spain who railroaded Croatia 5-0. The Spaniards completed their whitewash with straightforward wins from Albert Costa and Alex Corretja.
Costa, replacing Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first of Sunday’s reverse singles, raced to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Ivan Ljubicic to give the home side a 4-0 lead. Alex Corretja then took the place of Carlos Moya to claim the whitewash with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Mario Ancic on the red clay of the Valencia Tennis Club.