Britain have pinned their Davis Cup hopes on unheralded Alan Mackin after the world number 262 was handed the daunting task of facing world number one Roger Federer in the World Group play-off which starts here on Friday.
The decision was a setback for 32-year-old Greg Rusedski who has been rested by captain Jeremy Bates who has preferred to keep his top player fresh for the doubles on Saturday and reverse singles on Sunday.
In Friday’s other opening singles rubber, 18-year-old Andy Murray will make his Davis Cup singles debut against Swiss No.2 Stanislas Wawrinka.
Rusedski will team up with Murray in Saturdays doubles against Federer and Yves Allegro while Rusedski, a former US Open finalist, will replace Mackin for Sundays reverse singles.
“Weve obviously got a tremendously difficult task to try and beat Switzerland with Federer and I have to look at it realistically and try and work out the best way of getting the three points that we need,” said Bates.
“On paper it looks as though we will have to beat their No.2 player twice and win the doubles, though we will try and throw everything we can at Federer as well.
“I think that having Andy playing Wawrinka in the first match on Friday is something they werent expecting and it reverses the situation and puts a lot of pressure on Wawrinka because hes never won a Davis Cup match before.
“I think this is the best format we can use to try and win the tie.”
Federer, who skipped the first round of Davis Cup this season when the Swiss lost to the Netherlands, admitted he was taken aback by the decision to play Mackin on the clay courts here.
“I was surprised, though I wouldnt say I was shocked,” said Federer.
“Its much harder for Stan than for me because he has been preparing for Rusedski and practicing with lefties. I dont know that much about Mackin but I guess he will want to be on the baseline a lot.
“The danger for me is in not knowing much about him or how he plays. I will have to do some scouting but in the end I will have to rely on my own strengths and normally thats enough.”