| Roger Federer celebrates his win over Mark Philippoussis in Melbourne on Friday. Federer won 6-3, 6-4, 7-6. (Reuters)
Melbourne: Wimbledon champion Roger Federer swept past big-serving Mark Philippoussis on Friday to help Switzerland level their Davis Cup semi-final against Australia on Day I.
Philippoussis, known as The Scud, runner-up to Federer at Wimbledon, was let down by his key weapon. The Swiss broke the tall Aussie’s much vaunted serve five times en route to a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 victory, prompting visiting fans to jangle cow bells in the stands.
“I’m on a 10-match (Davis Cup) winning streak now, so I’m very happy with my game,” said Federer, who will play doubles on Saturday and reverse singles on Sunday.
Australia’s former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt had earlier given Australia the perfect start to the tie with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 win over Michel Kratochvil.
Philippoussis dropped serve in the second game of the first set. Despite breaking back in the fifth game, the world No. 15 dropped serve again in the eighth game with a double-fault to trail 3-5. Federer pulled out a second-service ace to clinch the first set 6-3 in 30 minutes before breaking the Australian’s serve immediately in the first game of the second set.
The world No. 3 survived a break-point in the eighth game to hold for a 5-3 advantage before taking out the set in 43 minutes.
The third set was a tighter affair which inched into a tie-break, Federer taking it 7-3 with an ace in front of 13,022 fans.
Hewitt broke Kratochvil in the opening game of his match against the world number 129 and never relaxed his grip.
He took the set in 45 minutes and held the early advantage in the second with a break in the third game as he also became more dominant on his own serve.
The 22-year-old swept through the set in 34 minutes and broke serve again in the third game of the third set when Kratochvil hit a forehand long. Hewitt, who improved his Davis Cup singles record to 21 wins from 26 matches, grabbed another break in the fifth game of the third set to complete an easy victory in two hours and one minute.
Spain up 2-0
In Malaga, Carlos Moya took full advantage of an injury to Argentine Mariano Zabaleta on Friday to hit back from two sets down, claim a 5-7, 2-6, 6-2, 6-0, 6-1 victory and take Spain to the brink of a place in the Davis Cup final.
Spain made a perfect start to the semi-final, as Juan Carlos Ferrero beat Gaston Gaudio 6-4, 6-0, 6-0 on the specially constructed clay court at the Jose Maria Martin Carpena stadium in Malaga.
Argentina, missing their top two singles players David Nalbandian and Guillermo Coria because of injury, needed something special from Zabaleta and for two sets against Moya he looked like providing it.
At 2-2 in the third, he required lengthy treatment for what appeared to be cramp, though, and Moya met with virtually no resistance as he won 10 consecutive games to force a deciding set.