Mladenovic, Garcia to spearhead France in Federations Cup final
France captain Amelie Mauresmo kept faith in the same players for the Fed Cup final against the two-time defending champion Czech Republic next week.
Caroline Garcia, Kristina Mladenovic, Alize Cornet, and Pauline Parmentier were picked yesterday to face the Czechs at home in Strasbourg on Nov. 12-13 on an indoor hard court.
The same quartet defeated the Netherlands in the semifinals.
The Czechs are bidding for a fifth title in six years, and won the most recent meeting between the teams, in the semifinals last year. France has reached the final for the first time since 2005, and will be bidding for a third title.
While the Czechs were favorites, Mauresmo said France was far from daunted.
“When you compare ourselves to the teams that have been winning this competition, they always have a top-10 player, and one or two players who won a Grand Slam title or made it to a major final,” she said. “But the rankings reflect a 52-week season. We only need two days.
“A lot of things can happen over two days and five matches. The girls are capable of raising their level to beat top players.”
The Czech team features sixthranked Karolina Pliskova, twotime Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Barbora Strycova, and Lucie Hradecka.
“It’s obviously a tall order,” Maursemo said. “They are not only very strong on paper, but they have also been playing at a very high level in this particular competition.”
Mladenovic and Garcia, who have featured in every French rubber this year, were cleared to play after the French Tennis Federation lifted their ban in September.
The pair was provisionally suspended for “damaging” the federation’s image at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where the players criticized the FTT over a clothing mix-up after their defeat in the first round of the doubles.
Mauresmo said she thought about giving a nod to the upand-coming Oceane Dodin, who won her maiden WTA title in Quebec City in September. But the cohesion of her team prevailed over the 71st-ranked player’s form.
“I thought a lot about it, it was logical given her results over the past months,” Mauresmo said. “It’s always a difficult task to find the right balance between the results of each player and the team spirit.”
Top-seeded Konta opens Elite Trophy with win over Stosur
Top-seeded Johanna Konta opened her Elite Trophy campaign by beating 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-2 yesterday.
Konta broke Stosur’s serve four times and dropped one service game.
“Against a player like Sam, who plays such a big ball and has such a big game, I really had to do my best to stay there for every single point and take my chances whenever they came,” said Konta, who was playing her first match since withdrawing from the Hong Kong Open last month with an abdominal strain.
The tournament in Zhuhai features the leading players on the women’s tour who didn’t qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore last week.
Carla Suarez Navarro withdrew because of a right wrist injury and was replaced by Timea Babos, who lost 6-4, 6-2 to Timea Bacsinszky in the first match on Day 2.
Bacsinszky rebounded from an opening loss to Chinese wild-card entry Zhang Shuai.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-2 in a night match.
Nishikori, Goffin advance to 3rd round at Paris Masters
Kei Nishikori posted his 300th win on tour yesterday, reaching the third round of the Paris Masters by beating Viktor Troicki 6-2, 7-5.
The fifth-seeded Nishikori, who made it to the semifinals at the indoor tournament two years ago, will next face Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.
“I think it’s a great number,” Nishikori said. “This year has been pretty good.”
Nishikori has recovered well from the hip injury that forced him to retire in Tokyo last month. He reached the final in Basel last week and will be playing at the ATP finals later this month in London for the third time.
David Goffin kept alive his slim chances of joining Nishikori at the elite tournament by defeating Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (5), 6-3, but he must win the title in Paris to clinch one of the remaining two spots at the season-ending event.
Among those who can still qualify is Marin Cilic, who set up a third-round match with Goffin with a 7-6 (7), 6-2 win over Ivo Karlovic. Goffin has a 3-0 record over Cilic.
“I’m really excited and satisfied with my form, especially these past few months,” Cilic said. “It’s a battle now between me, him, (Tomas) Berdych and Tsonga. I’m just hoping to continue with my good tennis and find a good way to play him this time.”
Also, 13th-seeded Lucas Pouille rallied past Feliciano Lopez 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4 to reach the third round while Jack Sock beat sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem 6-2, 6-4. Sock hit eight aces and did not face a single break point.
Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic