GENEVA:Roger Federer overcame some tough early resistance from Simone Bolelli to put Switzerland 1-0 ahead in their Davis Cup semi-final against Italy in Geneva on Friday.
The world number three, bidding to complete his collection of honours by steering the Alpine nation to a first Davis Cup triumph, delighted a capacity crowd in the Palexpo Arena with a 7-6(5) 6-4 6-4 victory.
Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka will take on Italian number one Fabio Fognini later on Friday.
Seventy-sixth ranked Bolelli, who was surprisingly selected for singles duty ahead of Andreas Seppi by virtue of having fewer previous defeats against the 17-times grand slam champion, stuck to his task impressively on the blue indoor court.
He saved two set points in the opening tiebreak but fired a backhand wide on Federer’s third, to the relief of his 33-year-old opponent who was far from his fluent best.
Federer finally secured the first service break of the match in the seventh game of the second set and cruised on to the 36th singles victory of his Davis Cup career.
Switzerland has reached the final once, losing to the U.S. in 1992, while Italy got there in 1998, going down to Sweden.