Federer confirmed for Davis Cup tennis finals
Roger Federer is set to play for Switzerland in the Davis Cup tennis final against France in Lille, France on Friday despite a back injury that laid him low.
There were concerns in the Swiss camp that he would be unable to compete after injuring his back playing in London last weekend.
But the draw announced on Thursday afternoon sees him go up against Gael Monfils in the second of the opening two singles rubbers.
French number one Jo-Wilfried Tsonga plays Stan Wawrinka in the opening match.
The doubles on Saturday opposes Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet of France against the Swiss pairing of Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer.
Sunday's reverse singles will start with Tsonga against Federer to be followed by Monfils versus Wawrinka.
Federer injured his back playing Wawrinka in the last four at the ATP World Tour finals in London on Saturday evening and he was unable to contest the final the following day against Novak Djokovic.
He was unable to train at the indoor claycourt in Lille which is hosting this year's final on Monday and Tuesday.
But he had a short practice session on Wednesday evening and did so again on Thursday morning just before the draw was made.
There is still a possibility that Federer would not play as the Davis Cup rules stipulate that an injured player can be replaced up to one hour before his match begins as long as a doctor confirms the injury.
But having looked at ease and in no pain during Thursday morning's practice session all the signs are that he will play his 45th singles tie for his country in the Davis Cup.
The 17-time major title winner has never before appeared in a Davis Cup final and he has made winning the trophy for Switzerland for the first time a priority.
It's a prospect that Federer quietly relishes.
"For sure it will be amazing," he said of winning the Davis Cup, before adding: "That's not the question though: I'm more focused on what I have to do this weekend, how I'm going to play, what I'm going to do this weekend."
Before that "you cannot think about winning or not, or even the title of Davis Cup", Federer said.
"You need to just be ready for the fight, be ready for that," he said.
"We did everything good. If we finish the weekend as the winner, maybe not . . . we have more chances in the future."
Without Federer, Switzerland's chances of winning a first Davis Cup would look extremely slim, with the French boasting a strength-in-depth and experienced line-up of Tsonga, Monfils, Gasquet and Benneteau
The problem for the Swiss is that although world number four Wawrinka is comfortably ranked above all the French players, after him the fall-off in the Swiss team is steep with Chiudinelli 212th and Lammer 508th in the rankings.
The final will be the 13th meeting between the two countries in the Davis Cup with France leading 10-2 in previous clashes.
France have won the Davis Cup nine times before, third equal best with Britain, the last being away to Australia in 2001.