LUGANO, SWITZERLAND: While Switzerland and Sweden trade leagues in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas for 2012, they have one thing in common: There are open questions on the personal front in both teams.
With the win of Anna Brazhnikova and Sandra Roma in the final doubles in Lugano, the Swedish team managed to avoid a "whitewash" by their Swiss opponents. A 0-5 verdict would have been harsh, as the visitors had chances in both singles matches which involved their No. 1 player, Johanna Larsson.
"Johanna could definitely have won the first set of the first match against Timea Bacsinszky, and then on the second day she played much better against Patty Schnyder. It was a 'do or die' match and if she had won, I believe we still would have had our chances", a disappointed captain Maria Strandlund Tomsvik analysed late on Sunday afternoon.
But as the leader of the "Tre Kronor" failed to win either of the matches and as Schnyder had also comfortably beaten Sofia Arvidsson on Saturday, the Swiss had an early reason to celebrate.
Captain Christiane Jolissaint was relieved: "It was a great weekend for us. On Saturday, everything went very easy, and despite Patty didn't play as well in the beginning on Sunday and faced a tougher opposition, she still managed to give us the third point."
Schnyder, who now has 50 Fed Cup match wins under her belt, is likely to retire rather soon. Jolissaint hopes that the emotions of Lugano make her think about the decision again: "I haven't talked to her about it at all, our focus was entirely on the weekend. But of course, it would be really nice if she continued for at least one more tie, we really have such a great team spirit."
"Team spirit" - the often used term is definitely not an empty one in the Swiss squad. Already in February in Eilat, the squad was very homogenous, including each and every member of the staff. Despite these great moments, Schnyder was still reluctant about a possible continuation: "The next tie is in February 2012 and I really don't look that far. I take it month by month now and then I will see but I definitely believe it was my last tie."
In case of Schnyder’s absence, the task to keep the spot among the world's best 16 nations would be very ambitious. The burden of leader would logically go to Bacsinszky, who would be backed by Voegele and Sadikovic.
The extrovert Swiss No. 2 would definitely be able to live up to the task: "I would be sad if Patty really stopped. She is a great person and was always there when I needed her. On the other hand, it is always an honour to be No. 1 in your country and I will play Fed Cup whenever I can, if it fits into my schedule."
While everything went Switzerland's way by beautiful Lake Lugano, it definitely wasn’t the year for Sweden. They had already lost a tie against Ukraine very narrowly in February, a team that next year will play among the world's elite.
Sunday's loss was also very hard to digest, as Strandlund Tomsvik admitted: "This team deserves to be in the World Group, but things really didn't go our way. However, last year, we won five matches, including the one against China, and then I wasn't a hundred percent sure that we belonged to the World Group."
Only a couple of hours after the bitter loss, it was hard for the Scandinavians to look into the future. Strandlund Tomsvik pointed out that the only question mark is about herself: "My players are very devoted to playing Fed Cup and will be there again. I have to analyze everything and see if I continue. It also depends what the (Swedish) federation wants."