10th Davis-Cup win by France
France beat Belgium in Lille, France last weekend to win the 2017 Davis Cup final. There was only one top ten ranked player in the in the tie between these two countries, David Goffin of Belgium is ranked 7 in the world. He won both his matches without dropping a set. On the whole, the four singles did not produce the expected Davis cup excitement and the winners were predictable even before the match began. The doubles, on which Belgium relied on to win the cup went to France unexpectedly and that turned out to be an exciting match. It is what gave France the Davis Cup for the tenth time.
France has ten players in the top 100 of the world ranking in singles and five in doubles. Belgium has only two in the top100 of singles and in doubles, they have none. It could be said that the depth of good players in France is what gave them the Davis Cup this year.
Captain and Hero
In this tie from the outset, doubles was to be the decider. In a way, the hero of the tie was 26-year-old Pierre Hugues Herbert. He has a singles ranking of 81 and doubles ranking of 13. Last week, partnering countryman 35-year-old Nicolas Mahut, he won the ATP finals in London. The London title acted as a stimulant and Herbert came out strong at critical moments when the Belgians had the command to win the doubles. The French press hailed Herbert as the man born for the moment.
To survive the tension and the pressure of the Davis Cup moments, French Captain and the seasoned campaigner Yanick Noah placed work horse and spirited fight Richard Gasquet with Herbert. Gasquet does not have a doubles ranking, but Noah knows what Davis Cup finals can be and put his faith in him to support Herbert on court. Surprisingly, this is the first time Herbert has played with Gasquet and it paid off. Long time warrior Gasquet did make the difference withstanding the tension of the situation better on numerous occasions during the match.
Sitting on the side line as the captain is a nerve wracking experience to anyone. Yanick Noah is one of the few who could have done so well. A captain can make or break the player during the match in team events.
Good performance by Belgium
David Goffin too is fresh from his great performance last week at the ATP Finals in London. He reached the finals in the singles and went down to Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. In the Davis Cup, with strapped knee and nerves as steel, Goffin disposed of Lucas Pouille and Wilfred Tsonga without loosing a single set. Those are the two matches Belgium won. Goffin was so good and him winning was never in doubt.
Belgian number two Steve Darcis is ranked 77. Reaching the finals, Belgium achieved it with one singles player and a good doubles pair. Their captain did not have any other choice but to use Darcis as the second singles player. Darcis was ranked 38 this year and has slipped down to 77 now. He appeared on court with five visible strappings between the wrist and shoulder on his playing arm. It gave way and he could not even offer token resistance to Frenchman Pouille in the final match which gave France the Davis Cup.
Missing big names
Players appearing strapped from injuries has become a common sight in tennis now. Although it cannot be told for certain, it is believed that training is the culprit behind this syndrome. Right amount in training intensity improves the player but passing that mark makes the player prone to injuries. With exertion levels varying so much in players, no boundary maker could be given to any particular player. Generally, ‘talented players’ can get away with the least amount of training and still perform well.
The intensity of the professional circuit often gets the blame for the absence of big names in the national Tennis teams of many countries in the Davis Cup. This could be considered to be true.
Davis Cup to ‘World Cup’
The new image International Tennis Federation [ITF] is pushing to establish to call the Davis Cup to be the ‘World Cup’ of Tennis. This new image establishment seems now necessary for survival. The name Davis Cup is unknown among the new generations after the Open era. American diplomat and Tennis player Dwight Davis established the Davis Cup in 1900. It has done very well to make tennis as a global sport during its amateurs only era. Times have changed now. The event, image and the popularity of tennis is in the hands of professional players. This has diminished the attraction of the Davis Cup, especially in developed countries.
The Davis Cup works with massive global sponsorship and the beneficiary of this is the ITF and national associations. There is going to be an impact on this with the loss of elite player participation in the Davis Cup. This year it was felt very much. It did not get the global media coverage as much as it did a decade ago. Media coverage is what the sponsors want.