10th Davis-Cup win by France

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.

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