In the second of our Fed Cup features that focus on players who starred in the last round of the competition, we talk to Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky.
The 24-year-old Swiss, who celebrated her 10th year of playing Fed Cup with two singles wins against Brazil in April, talks about her role as a veteran, why she loves playing Fed Cup and how Davis Cup fever has hit close to home.
2014 was a year of highs and lows for the Swiss Fed Cup team – a close defeat by France in the World Group II first round followed by a strong performance away to Brazil. What is the atmosphere like in the Swiss camp at the moment?
We are really happy about how we ended this year's Fed Cup for Switzerland. We had a really good team in February, but it wasn't enough against France this year. Then against Brazil, we were missing two of our top three players in Switzerland, and we knew that it was a less experienced team, but still a really good one, so we are happy that we could make 4-1 even with a less strong Swiss team. It shows that we can have good chances if all of us are playing next year!
You spent many years playing Fed Cup alongside players like Patty Schnyder and Myriam Casanova. What’s it like now being the most experienced player on the team? What advice do you offer the younger members of the team?
I feel honoured about that status and I also try to put this experience at the service of our team. Belinda was a little sad about her loss on Sunday against Teliana [Pereira]. She was angry too, it reminded me when I was her age, and had the same status as she has now, and I went to her in the locker room, I wiped her tears and told her that I know how she feels, and that we know she did her best, despite the loss, and that she has to prepare for the doubles to be ready, in case I don't win the third point. I just tried also to tell her, that we still have two chances to make one point for the victory (either in my singles or in the doubles) and that anyway, its just a Fed Cup tie, and that no matter her or our result we have a great team, and the most important thing is to enjoy playing for your country. I am lucky to have experienced all of the possible statuses of a team member - No. 1 player at age 16, No. 2 after Patty [Schnyder], favourite of the weekend, comeback from an injury, only nominated for doubles etc so I can more or less understand many feelings of my teammates and, if I can, I try to help.
You’ve played Fed Cup for a decade now – what has been your highlight?
In 2005 versus Slovakia, I won three points for Switzerland and I was 15! Also in 2011, I played super well with Patty in Eilat and then against Sweden. I do miss not having her around, she is someone great, and without knowing she brought me a lot of positive things, and also to the rest of the Swiss players.
What has it been like working with Heinz Guenthardt since he became Swiss captain in 2012? What sort of advice does he offer when you’re on and off court?
Heinz is someone living for tennis. He has been so long in this business! He talks a lot, so I can't really remember any specific advice, because there's a lot (we tease him all the time about the fact that he talks too much!) But he told me a situation he had in Davis Cup, while he was playing, and the crowd was against him, and it was pretty similar in Brazil. His story inspired me a little about how I had to behave while playing, and to stay calm.
What is your favourite thing about Fed Cup weeks? What makes them different from playing on the Tour?
To share a week together, trying to do everything to make all of the team members feel good to be ready to give their best at the weekend. To be successful for your country, all together. We're all year long caring about ourselves, it's nice to share many experiences with other players, especially when it's for a common goal!
Switzerland is hosting a Davis Cup semifinal against Italy in September in Geneva – will you be there supporting your countrymen? Is there a lot of buzz about the event in Switzerland?
I get a lot of news pretty much everyday about the 2014 Davis Cup, because my boyfriend is in charge of ticketing, so I'm updated about all the sales tickets and stuff. So far as I know, a lot of people want to attend to this Davis Cup semifinal, and I hear also around me many people dreaming about a Davis Cup victory for Switzerland this year. We have two of the top four ATP players so it's normal, and an amazing example for the next generation! Hopefully I'll be in Switzerland to cheer for them in September, and if not, good news, it might mean that I'll be far in a WTA tournament!