ATP Tour

France favoured to beat Czechs

2016-07-14 08:23
Lucas Pouille (Getty Images)

Prague - Lucas Pouille and Pierre-Hugues Herbert look set to make a shiny Davis Cup debut propelled by recent Wimbledon success as France take on the Czech Republic this weekend.

On the hardcourt of the Werk Arena in the eastern Czech steel hub of Trinec, world number 21 Pouille will probably join 10th-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the singles rubbers in the July 15-17 Davis Cup quarter-finals.

Nicolas Mahut and Herbert, the world numbers one and two for doubles, are a clear choice for Saturday's rubber after their Wimbledon win in an all-French final against Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

The French have lost world number 14 Richard Gasquet to an injury and 17th-ranked Gael Monfils, who is grappling with a mysterious virus.

The Czechs will miss their number one, eighth-ranked Wimbledon semi-finalist Tomas Berdych, who beat Pouille in the quarter-finals at the All England Club.

Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil has suggested Berdych wanted to rest after Wimbledon and ahead of the Rio Olympics.

Navratil has called up world No 50 Jiri Vesely, 78th-ranked Lukas Rosol, Adam Pavlasek (111) and veteran doubles specialist Radek Stepanek (118).

Despite the difference in rankings, Tsonga said nothing was certain ahead of the game.

"They have experience in their team and it's always been difficult to play them in their country," he was quoted by the Davis Cup website as saying.

"We are able to play well but the difference will be the place that we will play," added Tsonga, who lost in the Wimbledon quarter-finals to champion Andy Murray.

"We will play in Trinec and for sure they will have a good crowd and we will be under pressure for sure."

On Wednesday, part of the presumed Trinec crowd got a boost as Stepanek, Pavlasek and Navratil put on helmets and overalls and went to the local steelworks.

After spending a few seconds at a blast furnace, Pavlasek vowed to stick to good tennis.

"I had sweat pouring down my body in no time. I can't imagine anyone doing this eight hours a day," he told the Czech news agency CTK.

He told the DNES broadsheet France were the odds-on favourite.

"France have a better team and a broader selection of players," said the 21-year-old.

"But we have nothing to lose, we can go there with a clear head and pull a surprise."

Led by Berdych and Stepanek, the Czech Republic won the Davis Cup in 2012 and 2013.

The team beat Germany 3-2 in the first round this year while France, who last lifted the trophy in 2001, saw off Canada 5-0.

Read more on:    davis cup  |  tennis

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