Federer and Wawrinka put on pals act after spat

Roger Federer has played down his reported row with Davis Cup team-mate Stan Wawrinka and insists any problems have now been smoothed over by the Swiss pair.

Stan Wawrinka makes bunny ears behind Roger Federer in the picture tweeted by Federer this week
Stan Wawrinka makes bunny ears behind Roger Federer in the picture tweeted by Federer this week

Reports emerged on Monday that the players had an argument following their semi-final at the ATP World Tour Finals last week, resulting from a spat between Wawrinka and Federer’s wife Mirka during the last-four encounter.

Federer had saved three match points in the tenth game of the deciding set and the match was poised at 5-5 and 40-40 in game 11 when Wawrinka gestured to Federer’s box asking that they not make noise in between serves.

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Mrs Federer was then heard to call Wawrinka a “cry baby”, prompting an incredulous reaction from the Australian Open champion, who went on to lose the match 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (8/6).

It was then reported Federer and Wawrinka were involved in a “furious row” behind the scenes. That would have been a concern for Swiss Davis Cup captain Severin Luthi, who leads the team into the final against France on Friday, but the star pair put on a show of unity yesterday, with Federer posting a picture on Twitter of the team-mates looking all smiles.

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“It’s great being with the boys again,” tweeted Federer, above a picture including himself and Wawrinka with arms around each other. Both players later faced the media in a Davis Cup press conference in Lille, and Federer insisted the incident was all water under the bridge now.

“We had a conversation after the match,” said Federer. “Everything is totally relaxed. There was a lot of noise but there are no hard feelings whatsoever. We are having a good time, we are friends, not enemies. It was a heat of the moment situation.”

Wawrinka also confirmed the pair had settled their differences. “We have no problem together – we spoke about it straight after the match,” he said.

Of more concern for the Swiss is Federer’s fitness after the 17-time grand slam winner was forced to withdraw from Sunday’s London final against Novak Djokovic due to a back injury.

Yet, the 33-year-old remains hopeful he can recover in time for the start of the singles rubbers on Friday. Federer said: “My back is better than it was Sunday, but not good enough for practice yet. But I’m hopeful.”

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal has criticised Spain’s female Davis Cup captain for feeding a “false and absurd” debate that started when his coach and uncle questioned whether a woman could coach in the men’s game.

The 14-time Grand Slam winner struck out at both captain Gala Leon and the Spanish tennis federation. “It seems strange to me, as Davis Cup captain, that instead of seeking union and harmony between players, captains and the federation, she has incited and fed a debate that is totally false and absurd,” Nadal said.

Nadal said federation president Jose Escanuela was in his “right” to appoint Leon captain, but “it seems unfair to me that they have wanted to shift the issue to a place that is evidently a clear issue of populism”.

In September, Toni Nadal questioned Leon’s appointment as Spain’s first female Davis Cup captain by saying it was “preferable that [the captain] is someone with a background in the world of men’s tennis.”

Toni Nadal’s comments were labelled sexist by politicians from Spain’s leading political parties and in the media.

Leon has since met with some Spanish players, but not Rafael Nadal. “I’m not going to ask for forgiveness for being a woman,” Leon said last month.

Nadal has been off the court since having his appendix removed this month but has announced he will return to action at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi in January.

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