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Davis Cup, Zurich 2000 - Tour Review

By Laura Clelland & Neville Fowler - March 2000

The Swiss had their problems as well. The dumping of team captain, Marc Rosset refusing to play, young Federer with the weight of his nation on his shoulders and plenty of pressure to beat the reigning champions. It was time for the Australian team to back up the fantastic victory in Nice.
About 70 fanatics turned out to support the Australian Davis Cup team in February in Zurich.

Some people arrived late on Thursday and stopped in at the Oliver Twist (run by Brendan from Winton Qld)which was to become the Waynes of Zurich. Not all the fanatics arrived on the first night so this night was just a few quite drinks for most & a chance to recognise a few familiar faces from prior fanatics events & for many a chance to reminisce about memories of Nice.

Friday morning: Even some die hard cricket fans turned up at Oliver Twist very early the next day with Maccas in hand to catch the highlights of the Aussie’s game overnight. The rest of the fanatics arrived at the Oliver Twist a little bit later for a pre-tennis drink. We all prepared ourselves by painting our faces with as much green and gold as possible, hair and all and draping ourselves in anything remotely Australian from XXXX beer towels, yellow/green wigs, cricket/ rugby/ soccer jerseys and Australian flags and of course our fanatics shirts.

When it came time to leave and walk to the tram stop, quite a few of the fanatics were attached to a group of Australian flags on a string. As we wandered through Zurich – covered in green and gold and singing at the top of our lungs, we only caused a few traffic hassles and every Swiss that passed us turned their heads in amazement. As we waited for the tram, we tried to capture a few comments from the Swiss with his video but was only met by confused looks and shy smiles.

We all jumped on the tram when it arrived and again were met with glares and stares from the opposition.

Thankfully a “Free Tram” had been organised to the stadium - well in actual fact there was no one onboard to check the tickets we didn't have. It also amazed us that as long as you were dressed in green and gold and singing some Australian song, you were guaranteed entry to the stadium with a great ticket checking system in place – none. Maybe our enthusiasm and our vocal efforts intimidated them. The Fanatic's section was packed to the brim but the Swiss crowd was scattered around the stadium.

Lleyton(LH) played first up versus George Bastl and scared us just a little when it went to deuce on his first serve. At the start of the game LH seemed a little nervous, going down in the first set 6-4. LH just needed some encouragement and support - which is what the Fanatics were there to do. In the 2nd set LH found the form that we were and are accustomed too - taking the set 6-3. The third had some great rallies. LH stayed focused and won 6-2. The Fanatics chanted madly, getting louder and our cheering set the "roof on fire". COME ON Leyton.

Bastl struggled to hold serve and LH continued to play well, holding his serve. Bastl fought hard but LH chased everything and took the break point. LH blasted forward and Bastl continued to struggle with serve and returns. But LH was pumped and had match point and the 1st rubber in sight. The Swiss crowd were very quiet and didn’t seem to offer much support to their players. Newk offered words of encouragement and LH didn’t let us down. GAME. This meant it was time for a rendition of the National Anthem and also more singing and dancing. It also offered us a chance to quench the thirst. We had to support the sponsors - Cheers Heineken.

Mark Philippoussis was up next against Roger Federer, both players with power serves. The 1st set was tight and RF took it 6-4. The 2nd set had the ball girls and boys shaking in their boots as several serves powered straight for them. The lines-people did struggle to actually see the ball and the umpire over ruled a few calls. MP struggled to control his serve and RF made the most of it, taking the 2nd set to a tiebreak, 7-6 to RF. The Swiss started to sense an upset and for the first time they showed their support.

The Fanatics rallied together and didn’t for a second stop the cheering. Come on Flipper!!! MP found a few decisions and line calls going his way and won the 3rd set 6-4. But RF bounced back, much to our demise. RF won the 4th set and it concluded day 1, leaving it one rubber all. But of course the players only did that so that we would get our money’s worth for three days of tennis!

Didn’t they?

The Fanatics marched back to Oliver Twist for a few and a chat about the day’s play until the early hours of the morning, determined not to lose our momentum.

Saturday showed even more patriotism, as we were determined to fight back. We all arrived at the Oliver Twist for some pre-match ceremony, running low on green hairspray and face paint. Saturday proved to have more Swiss in the crowd. However they didn’t compete with the colour of the Fanatics. Perhaps the second days highlight from a supporter’s perspective was when all the Fanatics made a Congo line and toured all the way through the Swiss crowd, dancing and cheering with the Swiss music. There was not one Fanatic still seated.

Matt White also put in a superb performance when he managed to talk one of the Swiss band members into lending him their green and purple sequined costume. We also managed to decorate the band with large green and yellow zinc all over their faces. The Fanatics were in fine form and eager for another great day of tennis. Even the Swiss commented on how much we got behind our team. The Swiss crowd was no match for the Aussie spirit and no match for the Aussie enthusiasm.

Arthurs/Stolle V Manta/Federer
The boys started in great fashion blasting away to take the 1st set 6-3. The Fanatics started to get excited but the 2nd set got a little more difficult. The guys fought hard to save points but the Swiss broke serve, which set them up to serve for set point. Australia struggled to return and rally and the Swiss took the set 6-3. The 3rd set also went to the Swiss - 6-4. The 4th set was even and they took it to a tiebreak. The Swiss chased it hard and took it 7-4. The Swiss had a 2-1 lead in the doubles and the Fanatics started to get a little hoarse. In the 4th set WA held serve, RF aced a few and Stolle fought gallantly with no joy. Manta and RF rallied well and they started to sense victory. WA served well but RF was also at his best keeping up his form from the day before. It was down to a tiebreak and the Swiss crowd were a little more excited as they should have been. They broke the Aussie's and now held a 2-1 advantage over us going into the 3rd day.

Mixed emotions filed through the Fanatics. It was decided that to solve this we needed a good traditional schnitzel 'n' Rushid and a session at the Oliver Twist.

Sunday: Well there we were - the Final Day – the last chance to redeem the chances of a back to back win. Although we were a little dejected we were all ready for one final day of cheering for our boys who had worked so hard.

The Fanatics were ready and fired up (Its amazing what a good breakfast after 4hours sleep can do!).

It was the reverse singles with the young guns up first. LH v's RF. LH had that eye of the tiger look. (Cue the Rocky music). And a lot was riding on his game. We desperately needed it to draw even and go into the 5th rubber and the Swiss need it to advance to the Semi's -thus knocking Australia out. But the players were determined not to let that happened and we were right behind them.

LH started as he does - aggressively and took the first point. RF had the power serve, however LH had the agility - 2-0. The Fanatics were on the edge of their seats. A few disputed line calls threw a the spanner in the works and no one wanted to get up to get the next shout or some munchies. Even Newk was biting his nails but after some great rally’s but LH took the set 6-2.

RF came out firing in the 2nd set and got his serve working scoring some aces and taking the 2nd set. LH took the fight head on in the 3rd set and lest we forget FOCUS!!.

Both players broke serve taking it to a tiebreak. But RF struggled and the pressure and back up seemed to take its toll. LH was pumped, with his fist clenched high in the air. You could see the fire in his eyes. The team and the Fanatics were on their feet. LH took this support into the 4th set and ran RF around the court. By this stage RF was physically and mentally drained. LH was showing no signs of letting up and drilled away at RF 6-1. Needless to say it was a big sigh of relief. The game was drawn - 2 rubbers all.

This meant that it was break time – a quick dash for the toilet and then outside for a run around, stretch the legs, fresh air and in true Aussie style a quick cricket game to keep the nerves intact.

Next up was MP v GB. Now all the pressure was on, back to the battlefield. GB took the first set after a tiebreak 7-6. We were all biting our nails and grinding our teeth. MP fired up in the 2nd set taking it 6-4. But GB had other ideas and as he broke MP’s serve and ended up with the set 6-3.

The nerves were still there but the nails had had it and the all the fanatic’s throats were dry. But there was no time to drink as no one wanted to move from their seats. Flipper got the Aussie bench and the Fanatics on their feet as he stayed focused and as Newk offered his support and advice.

MP was well aware of what was at stake and he showed just that when he broke GB's serve and took the 4th set 6-3. It was all tied with 2 rubbers each and 2 sets all in the 5th rubber. We couldn’t have asked for a closer, more exciting finish. The whole stadium was fidgety and no one could keep still, as the Fanatics continued to sing with their hoarse voices.

But GB looked to be drained mentally and physically. It had been a tough game for both teams and MP seemed to be relying on all his experience. GB fought hard as he ran out of steam. It was MATCH POINT and GAME POINT.

And Mark Philippoussis did it!!!!! After all the nail biting and heart stopping moments - victory was ours and we had the hoarse voices and huge smiles to prove it.

It is impossible to describe the emotion that followed except to say that the nerves and blood pressure slowly started to settle. But excitement hit as the Fanatics saluted the players and the players in turn saluted the Fanatics.

There were congratulations all round as the Aussie's huddle together continuing to sing before going and congratulating the Swiss on their great effort in true sportsmanship conduct. They then applaud the efforts of the FANATICS once again.

It was time for us to celebrate this victory and so we all met up at the Oliver Twist which soon became packed with Fanatics . While waiting for the players to arrive at the victory party we sang every Australian song we could think of from the vegemite song, to the song from Burke’s Backyard.

Not to mention reminding everyone and carrying on the tradition of mentioning the FLY-FISHING (for those who were in Nice). The players and the whole team arrived and the celebration drinks and photo’s began.

The Fanatics and the players were able to party into the early hours of the morning and rave about the great weekend of sport.

A big night was had by all and by 5am Monday morning a few of us had to be on planes back to London for work. However a few people were locked out of their hotels and in the tradition of Davis Cup many fanatics missed their planes back to London – not mentioning any names…..

There are many things that we won’t forget about that weekend including the cocktails that Dave paid $100 for, the girl that got dropped on her head, the sites of Zurich (actually did anyone actually see it by day????) ….oh…..and of course a fantastic weekend of tennis.

The Fanatics sang and cheered for every moment of the three-day tie - out singing the Swiss crowd. The Fanatics traveled from miles to be there and support their team and they will do so again and again. Not matter what sport Australian's compete in, there will always be FANATICS.

Be vocal, be strong, be proud, be supportive - be an Aussie Fanatic.
Wed 13/04/2005 Nifty Neville fowler 64 views

1 Comments about this article

  • ... and we thought that you couldn't even spell your own name. Great story, Nifty!

    Posted by Bartelby Shenanigan Mon Apr 22, 2002 07:54pm AEST

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