Paris: Stan Wawrinka gave Switzerland the perfect start to the Davis Cup against France on Friday by defeating French number one Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
With Roger Federer to follow against Gael Monfils in the second singles clash, the Swiss, who have never won the premier tennis team trophy, hoped for a 2-0 first day lead.
Watched by an all-time Davis Cup record crowd of 27,432, crammed into one half of a roofed Lille football stadium, Tsonga looked and played tight from the start.
World number four Wawrinka converted his third break point of the match to lead 3-1 with his superb one-handed backhand drive regularly leaving Tsonga for dead.
The Frenchman saved a break-point in the opening game of the second set with a big smash that appeared to loosen some of his nerves. A Wawrinka double fault in the fourth game gave Tsonga his first break of the match to lead 3-1.
He held onto to that lead to level the rubber and the two went head-to-head in a tightly contested third set.
The turning point came in the sixth game when Tsonga`s big first serve deserted him and a sloppy forehand drive wide put Wawrinka 4-2 and eventually 5-2 ahead.
The fan support had been muted to that point, but Tsonga got them going as he saved two set points with a thumping forehand winner and a blistering ace.
Wawrinka was at 0-30 on his following serve, but worked his way out of that hole and took a two set to one lead after a long rally that tested both men.
Tsonga had his back to the wall and the tightness he had shown in the first set returned as he dropped serve to open the fourth set.
Monfils appeared on the French courtside bench to try to supply extra inspiration to his close friend, but it went from bad to worse for Tsonga as an inspired Wawrinka grabbed a doubled break to lead 5-2.
The Swiss number two made no mistake from there, closing out the rubber with a simple push volley at the net, Tsonga having been dragged hopelessly wide right of the court.
The second rubber between Federer and Monfils was to start soon after with the Swiss champion taking his place after a back injury scare.
In head-to-heads, Federer leads Monfils 8-2, saving two match points against him the last time they met in a five set quarter-final at the US Open.