Lille: Gael Monfils of France stunned Swiss great Roger Federer 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 Friday to even up the Davis Cup final, after Stanislas Wawrinka had beaten Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to give Switzerland the lead.
The 28-year-old Monfils, ranked 19th in the world, used a powerful serve and ground strokes to thrill the crowd of more than 27,000 people that packed the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Lille.
Monfils struck 10 aces and 44 winners, compared to just three and 25 respectively, by Federer, on the slow court that the French had chosen for their clash with Switzerland.
Federer, who sustained a back injury at last week`s Barclays ATP World Tour finals in London and has not yet fully recovered, showed little of his usual brilliance and was constantly put on the defensive by Monfils` aggressive hitting.
The Frenchman came into the match trailing Federer 8-2 head-to-head.
At the US Open this year, Monfils had led two sets to love and had a match point in the fourth set before losing the contest in five sets.
But he put some of that disappointment behind him, when he broke the world number two, Federer for the fourth time in the match to clinch the victory in just one hour and 46 minutes.
"That definitely (is) one of the top three matches in my life," Monfils was quoted as saying on the ATP World Tour`s website.
"To be honest, I was very nervous in the beginning. For sure, when Jo lost, there was extra pressure, because we needed to get back on the road to win the title.
" I liked the atmosphere (and) the big court. The crowd was very good (and) gave me a lot of energy. (In) the end, (it) helped me a lot, because I went for my shots, which made me serve big (and hit) big forehands," he said.
Earlier, Wawrinka had outclassed Tsonga 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in Friday`s opening singles match, using his powerful forehand and one-handed backhand to hit a whopping 61 winners in just 33 games.
Federer`s injury has cast a pall over Switzerland`s chances in the Davis Cup final.
In Saturday`s doubles fixture, France`s Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet are scheduled to face off against the Swiss duo of Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer.
But Davis Cup doubles lineups are often changed at the last minute and it will not be a surprise if Federer and Wawrinka, who won the doubles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, take the court Saturday for Switzerland.