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Federer draws world No. 262 in Davis Cup playoff

9/22/2005 - Tennis

GENEVA -- Runaway world No. 1 Roger
Federer drew a little-known Scot on Thursday as
Britain's Davis Cup captain Jeremy Bates took a surprise
approach to this weekend's World Group playoff against
Switzerland.

Living up to his promise of playing the tie tactically,
Bates nominated world No. 262 Alan Mackin to face Federer in
Friday's opening singles rubber, in place of the British team's
top player Greg Rusedski.

Rusedski is expected to be brought in for Sunday's reverse
singles, allowing Britain to concentrate their firepower on the
matches against Swiss No. 2 Stanislas Wawrinka as well as
on Saturday's doubles rubber.

British No. 3 Andy Murray will be the first to take
on Wawrinka when the two meet in Friday's second singles rubber.

Rusedski and Murray will then pair up against Federer and
Swiss doubles specialist Yves Allegro in the doubles.

Britain will hope to still be in contention after Murray's
rubber with Federer on Sunday -- allowing Rusedski to come in
for a decisive match against Wawrinka.

"I don't think the Swiss will have been expecting [that],"
Bates told reporters following the draw. "It also puts a lot of
pressure on Wawrinka who will now play his first match against
Murray.

"When it comes to choosing someone to play Federer, we have
to look at things realistically. I'm not prepared to throw
anything away, but we are definitely looking to transfer the
pressure back on to them -- and onto Wawrinka in particular."

Mackin was born just three days after Federer but age is
about the only thing the two 24-year-olds have in common.

Once ranked No. 1 in Scotland, before the sudden rise
of Murray, Mackin has had his best run of results this year at a
lower-tier challenger tournament in Nottingham, England, where
he won two matches before going out in the quarterfinals.

His only previous Davis Cup experience came in 2003 when he
was beaten 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 by Mark Philippousis during Brtain's
World Group first-round loss to Australia.

"I'm going to go out and enjoy myself and just see what
happens," a relaxed-looking Mackin said on Thursday.

"Playing Federer will obviously be very different from other
opponents I've faced but I mustn't think about it too much."

If Bates had wanted to raise a few eyebrows among the Swiss
team, it seems that he succeeded.

"Yes, I was surprised," Federer said during the Swiss team's
media conference. "You always keep in mind the various options
that are there, but I thought it might be Murray that they would
leave out. I'm sure they have their reasons though.

"I'm happy not to be playing Murray in my first match
though, and I think Stan is pleased not to be playing Rusedski,
who he has never beaten.

"The danger for me against Mackin will be in not knowing him
at all. I'll have to try and find out today how he plays and
what his results have been. Of course my own game should be
enough to get me through. But this is Davis Cup, and we are on
clay so I still see it as a challenge for me to get the first
point for Switzerland."

Assuming Federer has no difficulty in securing that opening
point, the second rubber between Murray and Wawrinka could go a
long way towards deciding the tie.

The 20-year-old Swiss and 18-year-old Briton are both seen
as future stars in their home countries and share a liking for
clay -- having both spent time at separate training camps in
Barcelona during their youth.

Currently ranked 110th in the world, Murray will have to
overcome an opponent ranked fifty places above him -- as well as
a partisan Swiss crowd -- if he is to keep the British game-plan
alive.