Credit Swiss Davis Cup Severin Luthi with making a great decision sometime Friday night or this morning. After consulting with his players, Luthi decided to yank the scheduled doubles team Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer in favor of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. The net result: A decisive, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 win for Switzerland—and a 2-1 points lead in the best-of-five-point Davis Cup final.
Chiudinelli and Lammer are low-ranked journeymen in both singles and doubles. With the tie knotted at 1-all, Luthi could not afford to stand by and watch a ritual slaughter, inflicted by 2014 French Open doubles champion Julien Benneteau and the mercurial Richard Gasquet.
In addition to that obvious danger, there was another potent one in play. Imagine the momentum and confidence the French squad, and the bulk of the 27,000+ fans who have been jamming into the Stade Pierre Mauroy, would carry into the final day of play. Luthi clearly had to call upon Wawrinka and Federer, sore back and all—which is why that obvious move isn’t the great decision I’m referring to.
Luthi’s stroke of genius was his bold decision to hire U.S. doubles coach David Macpherson to give coaching advice to the Swiss doubles players. Clearly, Luthi was thinking ahead to all the possible scenarios for this three-day tie last week in London when he brought Macpherson on board. For no matter how you crunched the scenarios, there was only one in which the doubles would not loom as a critical point for Switzerland: If the Swiss led 2-0 at the end of day one. And even then, wouldn’t it be wise in that situation to go for the jugular?