February 24, 2009 / 8:00 PM / 11 years ago

Tennis-Federer absence makes U.S. favourites, says McEnroe

NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - The absence of Roger Federer makes the U.S. favourites to advance in next month’s Davis Cup tie against Switzerland, American captain Patrick McEnroe said on Tuesday.

McEnroe will send out his usual squad of Andy Roddick, James Blake and doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan against Switzerland in the Birmingham, Alabama first-round match which has been hit by the withdrawal of Federer due to a back injury.

“With Roger pulling out, that changes the dynamic,” McEnroe said in a conference call.

“If Roger had been playing it would have been pretty even. Roger being out makes us a pretty solid favourite, but we’re not overlooking the team the Swiss are bringing.”

Switzerland captain Severin Luethi has named Stanislas Wawrinka, Stephane Bohli, Marco Chiudinelli and doubles specialist Yves Allegro in his team.

World number two Federer, runner-up at the Australian Open in January, announced his withdrawal last week.

“To be honest, I was a little disappointed,” McEnroe told reporters.

“We were all looking forward to the challenge of playing Roger and the buzz he would help bring to the match.”

The United States won the Cup two years ago and last year reached the semi-finals before losing to Spain, the eventual champions.

“For us the goal is to try to get back into the later rounds and try to win the cup again,” the U.S. captain said.

“We certainly have the capability of doing that and that’s the bigger term goal, so we certainly like the fact that we have a better chance to advance.

“I’ll probably sleep a little bit better next week as we prepare for the match and not have to prepare for Roger.”

Switzerland had to win three ties last year to return to the World Group after suffering relegation.

The matches will mark the third Davis Cup meeting between the two countries. The United States beat Switzerland in the 1992 final, and the Swiss claimed revenge with a first-round victory over the Americans in 2001.

Editing by Ed Osmond

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