Pouille to lead France in Davis Cup final against Croatia
PARIS (AP) — Lucas Pouille will lead France in the Davis Cup final against Croatia this month as the hosts bid to win successive titles.
Pouille was the highest-ranked player among Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Jeremy Chardy, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the team picked by captain Yannick Noah on Tuesday
Pouille wrapped up France’s 10th Davis title last year by winning the decisive point against Belgium in the final.
France’s top player, the 26th-ranked Richard Gasquet, announced his withdrawal on Monday because of a groin injury.
In the absence of Gasquet, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon, Pouille is the best ranked French player at No. 32. Tsonga has been sidelined by a knee injury for most of the season and dropped to 261st.
On paper, the Croats are favorites with No. 7-ranked Marin Cilic and No. 12 Borna Coric.
But Noah said he was unfazed by statistics.
“The only thing I know is that our goal is to win against the Croats,” Noah said. “The mindset, the ability to adapt to clay, and the commitment to Davis Cup are what really matters.”
Like last year, the final will be at Pierre Mauroy Stadium in the northern city of Lille from Nov. 23-25 under a retractable roof.
Noah has summoned his players for a training camp nearby outside the city.
“It’s easier to work as a group away from all the excitement,” he said.
Pouille, Tsonga, and Chardy have already started training. Herbert and Mahut will join them after playing doubles at the ATP Finals in London. The pair lost its first group match and Mahut picked up a slight ankle injury after he chased down a ball close to the advertising boards and fell into the line judge’s chair. Noah said he would call Julien Benneteau as a replacement for Mahut if he can’t play in the final.
Noah, who guided France to Davis Cup titles in 1991, 1996, and 2017, will step down after the final, and Amelie Mauresmo will take over.
“I’m very excited,” the former French Open champion said. “It’s been two months that we have been preparing for this last final with my staff. I’m both motivated and excited.”