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Wawrinka Stunned by Golubev in Davis Cup Quarterfinals; In the Footsteps of Grand Slam Stan; Hingis Grooms Future Champs; Belinda Bencic Ready to Embrace Greatness

Aired April 17, 2014 - 05:30:00   ET



PAT CASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): In terms of scenery, Switzerland has plenty to shout about, the land of lakes and towering mountains can now boast two men who have ascended to the pinnacle of men's tennis by becoming Grand Slam champions, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are combining their firepower for their country in a battle to bring the Davis Cup home to Switzerland for the first time.

This month, OPEN COURT sets out on a journey through the landscape of Swiss tennis.

Coming up on the show, I'll take a boat trip to Lucerne, where Stan Wawrinka is still the toast of the town following his Aussie Open victory. And we'll have a quick gallop down to Barcelona, where the great Martina Hingis saddles up for a chat.

CASH: But we start here in Geneva, where the city provided a stunning backdrop for the latest chapter in Swiss tennis history, 17,000 fans turned up for three days of drama when Switzerland took on Kazakhstan in a Davis Cup quarterfinals showdown.



DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Roger Federer has won nearly everything there is to win in tennis. But there's one major title missing from the maestro's repertoire: the Davis Cup. No player can win the team title alone and with his Swiss teammate, Stan Wawrinka, playing some of the best tennis of his career, hopes are high in Switzerland.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have the best team of the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are really looking forward to beat the Swiss team in the Davis Cup.

RIDDELL (voice-over): The stage is set for a quarterfinal showdown between Switzerland and Kazakhstan. This is the third time the Central Asian nation has advanced to a Davis Cup quarterfinal.

SEVERIN LUTHI, CAPTAIN, SWITZERLAND DAVIS CUP TEAM: I can see why they have such great results in Davis Cup. I think they like the competition and they show it every time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be a tough weekend, for sure, for us. Are there going to be any chances for us? Of course. I mean, Roger Federer and Wawrinka are humans as well.

RIDDELL (voice-over): Sixteen (ph) thousand fans, most dressed in red and white, turned out to see the David versus Goliath matchup. No one on the Kazakh squad is ranged within the top 50. While Wawrinka struggled to contain his nerves in front of the hometown fans, Andrey Golubev played a solid match and upset the reigning Australian Open champion.

ANDREY GOLUBEV, KAZAKHSTAN DAVIS CUP TEAM: I'm very happy to make a first point for our team.

STAN WAWRINKA, SWITZERLAND DAVIS CUP TEAM: It's only the first match, only the first one. Like always, you have to look at the positive. We didn't come here, like thinking it's going to be an easy time.

RIDDELL (voice-over): But it didn't take long for the Swiss to level the tide, when Federer beat Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets.

ROGER FEDERER, TENNIS PRO: Of course I was anxious, you know, that Stan was going to turn it around and hoping. But I was happy that it didn't affect me in a negative way. I was able to come out and play a -- I think a very good match.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before this weekend, if somebody would tell me we'd be going into Saturday being 1-0 with Swiss, I would take it any time, any day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): They're going to win. They must win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): I think Roger Federer can make the match of the day.

RIDDELL (voice-over): Swiss fans were hopeful that the Federer- Wawrinka doubles team, which won the Olympic gold together, could find the Midas touch once again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We understand that Federer's going to take the driving seat, you know, like he's going to take the leading role. Well, we have to play an outstanding tennis. There will not be many chances.

RIDDELL (voice-over): Swiss fans hope Wawrinka could bounce back from Friday's loss and put the Swiss in front.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking for a set from me, I was -- I was completely down, completely out of the doubles. And that's the reason why we didn't win the doubles because we lost the two first sets. That was the thing that great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's tough. You know, it's stressing me out also a little bit, you know, and I always want the best for the team.

RIDDELL (voice-over): So far, in the battle of Stan versus Kazakhstan, there's no question that the Kazakhs have the upper hand. They only need to win one more match to advance to the Davis Cup semifinal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It gives us a slight advantage going into the third day, maybe psychological. But scorewise, you know, anything is possible. It's Davis Cup.

RIDDELL (voice-over): Switzerland is in a do-or-die situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody's not here A (ph). Federer is number four, Wawrinka is number three and everybody thought it will be easy. It's not because the boys from Kazakhstan, they have a very strong will to win.

RIDDELL (voice-over): Swiss fans cheer as Wawrinka finally got his engine running just in time to beat Kazakhstan's number one player, Mikhail Kukushkin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) the atmosphere for sure. It was great. That's helped me a lot. I think I did a really good job. I was playing really good, really aggressive, served really well and I'm really happy with the win.

RIDDELL (voice-over): Next up, Golubev versus Federer, the winning team will advance to the semifinals.

Experience ruled the day and Federer closed out the tie with a straight set win.

FEDERER: We knew it was going to be tough and I think I did a very good weekend. But I'm happy we finished strong here on Sunday with Stan winning his crucial match and giving me the opportunity. And I really enjoyed the weekend.

We played three day really well today. (INAUDIBLE) and even if I lost it was at the end was tough for me but I enjoy it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though we did lose, but for three days we kept our friends back home glued to the TV and everybody was going crazy back home.

FEDERER: Now it's important that we enjoy tonight and tomorrow, the next day, as long as Stan wants, we'll see how long it takes us to recover from this one, you know, the physically and mentally.

RIDDELL (voice-over): The Swiss faithful know this story is far from finished. The next chapter unfolds in September against Italy, the winner advancing to the Davis Cup final.



CASH (voice-over): Still to come on OPEN COURT, I travel across Lake Geneva to the hometown of Switzerland's latest Grand Slam champion.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again, fail again, fail better.

CASH (voice-over): The words of Irish comic Samuel Beckett are tattooed on the forearm of the world's newest Grand Slam champion. Stan Wawrinka says the poem is how he sees life, especially his tennis life. Wawrinka beat an ailing Rafa Nadal to win the Australian Open title in January. The win marked the first time since 2009 that a player outside the Big Four had won a Slam, a surprise to fans, journalists and even the winner himself.

WAWRINKA: I never expected to be in that position, watch so many final Rafael, before I won the trophy. So yes, that's worth something crazy, what happened to me right now.

CASH (voice-over): Wawrinka celebrated his maiden Grand Slam title on the banks of the Yarrow (ph) River in Melbourne. Press mobbed the Grand Slam star, eager to introduce a new champion to the world.

It's been a long climb to the top tier in tennis for the 29-year old, who grew up here on a farm in Saint-Barthelemy. The mayor of this quiet Swiss village has followed Wawrinka's career since he was a teenager.

A small town, but you have a Grand Slam champion. (INAUDIBLE) town is a village --

DOMINIQUE DAFFLON, SAINT-BARTHELEMY MAYOR (voice-over): It's a village. There's 800 people here. But we have a Grand Slam champion. We are quite proud about it.

We were always believing in Stan. When he started to win the Rado's (ph) Junior, and after that he became Olympic champion together with Roger Federer, he's a so hard worker.

CASH (voice-over): Do you have a tennis court here?

DAFFLON (voice-over): Yes, we have one.

CASH (voice-over): You have one?


DAFFLON (voice-over): But we only need one to produce a Grand Slam champion.

CASH (voice-over): He's a massive hero now here and much more that.

DAFFLON (voice-over): Could you imagine for a village of just 800 people? Here in Saint-Barthelemy, in the middle of Switzerland? We have a guy who has won the Australian Open. As I told him when I saw him in the - - at the (INAUDIBLE) before he came back, the only think I can say to him is hello and you are magic.

CASH (voice-over): Wawrinka grew up in the shadow of Roger Federer. Stan still remembers the first time they practiced together.

WAWRINKA: I remember I was 16 and he was participating in the Swiss Federation. He was already, I think, sixth in the world and after 10 years, I was completely red, completely dead tired because I was so nervous. That was the end.


CASH (voice-over): Now the pair who won the Olympic doubles in Beijing have teamed up again. Wawrinka has consistently played for Switzerland for the past decade. He's pleased Federer has joined him in the fight this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) is the great player ever in tennis. He's been doing so well since these many years. So it's great that he's back in Davis Cup for looking for what for this year. We know that we have a good team on the paper.

WAWRINKA (voice-over): I think his talent is really lucky in tennis, you know. If you take only one player, Roger has been -- has been there and winning everything. So I hope the next generation will take positive from that and will try to improve (INAUDIBLE) therefore for the next few years.

CASH (voice-over): Wawrinka's philosophy of learning from his losses and failing better has won him a Grand Slam title, Olympic gold medal and the best-ever ranking of number three in the world. As he tries to top off his breakthrough year with more wins, his focus will be on the Davis Cup and the prospect of giving Switzerland and his hometown of Saint-Barthelemy another reason to celebrate.


CASH (voice-over): Coming up on OPEN COURT, the best women's player in Swiss tennis history.



CASH (voice-over): Welcome back to Lucerne, known as the Olympic capital as it's the home of the IOC and Olympic Museum. Well, nearly two decades ago, Martina Hingis became the youngest ever Grand Slam winner. She turned down the opportunity to come out of retirement to play with Roger Federer at the London Olympics, but she has recently made a welcome return to the tour.



MARTINA HINGIS, FIVE-TIME GRAND SLAM SINGLES CHAMPION (voice-over): Well, here we are in famed Barcelona in the Polo Club. It's the biggest club in Europe, 45 tennis courts. You have the Polo Grounds just behind us, where my horse is boarded as well right now.

(INAUDIBLE) situation of pros but also in the future we want to work with amateurs.

The result is to grow it slowly but really just that daily.

I always enjoy to be on the court and wherever people who are willing to learn. I think that's into a lot of fun and every time when a player improves doesn't matter what level or he does the right thing, that's all I'm asking for. It's like a small victory, yes.

It's never easy to coach anybody. I think -- you know I think a lot more about my mom now. Difficult it is to really help and coach and mentor -- and she's the best.


HINGIS (voice-over): And I'm so happy she was helping today and that she could come here and, you know help me with this because she has so much more experience. I'm lucky to have her because she's done from the 4-5- year-olds obviously. And me, to the top player. So she's gone through all the ages.


HINGIS (voice-over): As a 16-, 17-, 18-year old, as a teenager, I was going through all these maybe also sometimes, you know, difficult times, rebellion and I still had all these unbelievable victories.

But I think for me this moment when I was there and playing and winning, it was normal and natural. You didn't really have the time to almost enjoy the moment because there was the next tournament already, next challenge, next opponent.

I have a lot more time now to really enjoy it, you know, look back at the memories that, you know, I had.

Now is it I guess willing to go into Miami. I always like this tournament and but to win a tournament like this, no, after seven years of absence I didn't expect it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) 2014 (INAUDIBLE) doubles champion, Martina Hingis. (INAUDIBLE). Let's hear it for number three.

HINGIS (voice-over): Being picked is just unbelievable. She doesn't let you down and that was really the difference in that match, standing there as a champion again was really nice feeling.

(INAUDIBLE) not changed (INAUDIBLE) since then. Now as a player I have still to try to learn or bring it to the other people or to the players that I trained. So it's now I try to learn as a teacher, yes, as a coach, it's like learning again.


HINGIS (voice-over): The horses was always part of my life. We always have to sometimes think ahead of them and I think that was also part of the reaction plan, you know, for when anything happens on the court, I kind of reacted. And it helps you to, you know, to be flexible and to be fast.

When you come back from tournaments and you have the stress of the big cities and the lifestyle that's completely different, you know, the horses just like unique relationship. It was something that I have for myself that I didn't have to be perfect. Years of tennis, you have to put it in the white lines and you have want to win the matches and you want to win trophies. Where the horses, I didn't have the same pressure, of course. It's -- it was always a passion and that's why I wanted to keep it that way.


HINGIS (voice-over): When you jump, sometimes it's kind of feels like you're flying, right? You have the harmony and kind of work together with the horse.


CASH: Well, Martina continues to shine in the sunset of her career, there's a new dawn on the horizon for Swiss tennis in the form of Belinda Bencic, the teen sensation has just cracked the top 100 and as Christina McFarland tells us, she's already impressed one of the biggest names in the game.



BELINDA BENCIC, SWISS TENNIS PLAYER (voice-over): I started my first set here on the tennis court and then a few moments later, I tried to play and, yes, I had fun.

CHRISTINA MCFARLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The remarkable rise of teen sensation Belinda Bencic has perhaps inevitably led to comparisons with that other Swiss miss, Martina Hingis. She's already caught the attention of the greats of the game.

CHRIS EVERT, 18-TIME GRAND SLAM CHAMPION: I see a similarity with Martina Hingis. You can see by the hands and you can see how, you know, she takes the ball on the rise and she doesn't let the ball get, you know, past her. She's very focused mentally, emotionally very composed and I just thought, she has it.

BENCIC: That makes me really proud and this is a great compliment.

MCFARLAND (voice-over): Things fell apart there are several other connections between the two Swiss prodigies. Both players were born to parents from the former Czechoslovakia who emigrated to Switzerland. Belinda Bencic was born in the same year that Martina Hingis won her first Grand Slam singles title in 1997 and Belinda's first coach was Martina's mom.

BENCIC (voice-over): I was inspired by Martina here and practicing by her mother. So we can have the same technique and I'm really thankful to her that she teach me all of what I know.


MCFARLAND (voice-over): Today Belinda's father, Ison (ph), is (INAUDIBLE) coach. Two years ago he accepted an invitation from Chris Evert and John Evert to train at their Florida academy during the winter months.

EVERT: When Belinda and her family first came to the Evert Tennis Academy a few years back, they came with the family and they came with the hitting partner and the coach. And I was like, oh, she's 14 years old; she already has an entourage, you know. And but then I watched her play and I knew right away she had the X factor.

MCFARLAND (voice-over): 2013 was a breakthrough year for Bencic when she won junior titles at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

BENCIC (voice-over): There was a really special moment for me. I was doing to be in the Wimbledon final and even though it was juniors, it was very special and, yes, I was really proud of that. And it was a hard match and we were both very nervous. But, yes, I'm happy today it won.

MCFARLAND (voice-over): Following her success, Bencic decided to leave the juniors behind and join the pro ranks. She became the youngest competitor in the Australian Open in January and beat the tournament's oldest player, Kimiko Date-Krumm, a veteran twice her age, before losing to eventual champion Li Na.

A month later, she led the Swiss team to Paris for their Federation Cup clash with France, beating two top French players.

BENCIC: I think there's things that came together, what I was working on all through the year and off-season. And I had good confidence from the Australian Open so I could -- I knew I could play with those players.

MCFARLAND (voice-over): As Bencic's ranking improves, so does her marketing (ph) power. Chris Evert says the growing list of sponsorships and endorsements can distract a young player from on-court priorities, but believes Bencic won't lose focus.

EVERT: I don't feel that way with Belinda at all, because I think her number one priority is to be a winner out there. And she wants to win tennis matches. She doesn't necessarily want to be on the cover of "Vogue" magazine or even "Tennis" magazine.

BENCIC (voice-over): A lot of people think it's like extra pressure on me, but I don't see that that way because I'm just enjoying the moment. I think it's less pressure if you have someone who supports you.

MCFARLAND (voice-over): And with her family close at hand and the likes of Chris Evert cheering from the sidelines, she's finding the support she needs.

CASH (voice-over): We've made it easy for you to read more about teen sensation Belinda Bencic. Log on to our website,


CASH: Next month, OPEN COURT heads to Paris as we preview the French Open and I'll meet up with Yannick Noah, the last French man to win at Roland Garros. But for now I'm heading back to Geneva as we conclude our journey through the waters of Swiss tennis -- goodbye.