Furthermore, the common thread in the accounts of a hot-tempered match concerns the role of Federer’s wife, Mirka. Telegraph Sport understands that Mirka’s intense and even provocative support for her husband – which peaked just before Wawrinka served for the match at 5-4 in the third set – caused Wawrinka to complain about her behaviour.
In those late stages, Mirka is understood to have challenged Wawrinka directly, accusing him of whingeing. Wawrinka failed to convert four match points – three of them in that critical service game at 5-4 – before Federer finally came through 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 .
When he came into the interview room Wawrinka was asked: “At some point late in the third you seemed upset with someone speaking before points. Can you explain what happened?” His response was cryptic: “Not much. Nothing special. Tense match. It’s never easy.”
Information has now come to light about the aftermath of the match, when Federer and Wawrinka were encouraged by senior tennis figures to put the issue to bed at once. The two men conducted a heated 10‑minute debate in the O₂ Arena’s gym, in which Federer was understood to be the more assertive party.
The tension was not fully resolved but they have agreed to concentrate on their shared goal of defeating France in the Davis Cup final, which starts in Lille on Friday. Some even believe that Wawrinka may be inspired by his lingering frustration.
“The Swiss guys might have a little more steam when they are playing doubles, a little more fire,” one well-known former player said.
At the same time, though, the Swiss captain, Severin Lüthi, must be wondering what has hit him after a potentially crippling weekend for team unity. There is also a question over whether the fallout contributed to Federer’s back trouble, which he says developed in the third set tiebreak and eventually led him to make a dramatic and unprecedented withdrawal from the final on Sunday at the 11th hour. At the very least, the gym summit held him up from attending to the injury with physiotherapy at the earliest opportunity.
John McEnroe, commentating on ESPN , alluded to the issue when he said: “There was a long talk between the players that extended late into the night. And the stress of that, I can’t confirm all of this, but a lot of this went on and that caused . . . I don’t think that helped the situation.”
This is not the first time that excessive support – or even coaching – from the players’ boxes has caused ill-feeling. Federer told Novak Djokovic’s parents to “be quiet” during a match in Monte Carlo in 2008, and also complained about Rafael Nadal’s uncle, Toni, making coaching signals at Wimbledon in 2010.
It is the first time, however, that the issue has cropped up in Federer’s camp. Mirka is often described as the power behind the throne, yet she has never previously become involved in the on-court narrative in this way.
Wawrinka and Federer have long had a genuinely close relationship, though it must be said that Wawrinka was never a threat to Federer’s primacy in Switzerland until this year.
Both men are due to speak today in Lille, ahead of what looks like being a fascinating weekend. They travelled separately yesterday, Wawrinka on Eurostar and Federer by air.
Although Federer’s back trouble has caused concerns that he might pull out of the final, it was noticeable how he played it down in his on-court apology on Sunday, saying that he was not “match-fit”. He opted not to face the wider media, speaking only in a carefully controlled environment to the ATP’s own camera crew. There, he referred to a “back spasm, whatever it might be”, and added: “It’s just not a fun thing to have during the day, but I’m positive and I’m hopeful that it’s going to go away very soon.”
Knowing the importance that Federer attaches to the Davis Cup – the one big title he lacks – he will take every step necessary to put himself in the best shape for the matches on Friday in front of 27,000 in Lille’s Stade Pierre Mauroy. It will be the biggest crowd he has played to, and potentially the most partisan. It could be one of the greatest occasions of a legendary career.
I honestly don't know what to think of this or who to believe.