Davis Cup final: Tsonga leads France, Goffin leads Belgium
By SAMUEL PETREQUIN
PARIS (AP) Julien Benneteau's deep run at the Paris Masters this month earned him a recall by France for the Davis Cup final against Belgium.
Benneteau was summoned beside Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Lucas Pouille, Nicolas Mahut, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Richard Gasquet by captain Yannick Noah on Tuesday. All have played at some point for France this year.
"This is a compact team," Noah said. "The six I've picked are capable of playing."
At the Paris Masters, Benneteau beat Tsonga and Belgium's top player, David Goffin and Marin Cilic. The 57th-ranked Benneteau is also a good doubles specialist. He has played in 13 ties since 2010. His first in two years was the quarterfinal win over Britain, against which he won the doubles and lost a singles dead rubber.
"He has earned his spot," Noah said. "He has surprised all of us, including himself."
The 15th-ranked Tsonga and No. 18 Pouille are expected to lead the team in singles play, with Benneteau and Gasquet listed as substitutes. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, who are playing in doubles at the ATP Finals in London this week, have been selected as a team.
"I won't have them during the whole preparation, but our opponents have the same problem with one of their players," Noah said, referring to Goffin, who is in London in the singles draw.
Belgium features eighth-ranked Goffin, Steve Darcis, Ruben Bemelmans, and Arthur De Greef, the same group which defeated Australia in the semifinals. The Belgian federation said Joris De Loore will also travel to France despite a long injury layoff that ruled him out of the semifinals.
"Our rivals will largely count on one player (Goffin)," Noah said. "I believe that we are capable of beating their No. 1. If we manage to play our best tennis next week, we are favorites."
Nine-time champion France is going back to Stade Pierre-Mauroy in the northern city of Lille for the final from Nov. 24-26. In September, the Stade Pierre-Mauroy set a Davis Cup semifinal attendance record for a day and a tie, with almost 48,000 spectators over the three days.
France lost its three previous finals, in 2002, 2010 and 2014. It seeks its first Davis Cup title since 2001.
Belgium, in the final for the second time in three years, is looking for its first. It has not won in France since 1952.
Updated November 14, 2017