PARIS (AP) — Setting their sights on a first Davis Cup win since 2001, the French players are finding extra motivation in the daunting task awaiting them.
France earned its place in the final by ending the two-year dominance of Czech Republic in the team competition with a 4-1 win over the defending champions on clay at Roland Garros. They now need to overcome Roger Federer’s Switzerland.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion put his country back in the final for the first time in 22 years by beating Fabio Fognini of Italy in the opening reverse singles Sunday for a winning 3-1 lead in their semifinal. The Davis Cup is the only major trophy still missing from Federer’s collection.
“Federer is a monument of tennis, this is a dream final,” said Richard Gasquet, France’s standout player of the weekend.
Gael Monfils wrapped up victory for France with a 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Lukas Rosol on Sunday after Jiri Vesely salvaged some pride for the Czechs by beating Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-3 in a consolation win in the first reverse singles.
“There is no need for motivation when you are in the final, but hosting Federer adds an extra something to a sumptuous final,” Benneteau said.
France booked its place in the final on Saturday when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gasquet won the doubles to give the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead.
Monfils was initially set to play the opening singles but was replaced by Gasquet by France captain Arnaud Clement after failing to recover from jet lag following his quarterfinalist placing at the U.S. Open last week.
Clement’s decision paid dividends as Gasquet put France on the right track with a straight sets victory against the sixth-ranked Tomas Berdych before Tsonga extended his team’s lead to 2-0 by beating Rosol.
“Everybody speaks about a dream final against Switzerland, but for me the dream is just that France will be there,” Clement said. “With Federer and Stan Wawrinka, It’s obviously a big contest but the important thing is that we are in the final.”
Switzerland has never won the competition and lost its only final in 1992 against the United States.
After hosting the Czechs at Roland Garros, the French are trying to finalize a deal for the tie to be staged in a bigger venue, with the northern city of Lille being touted as the likely host.
Clement said he will have lengthy discussions with his players before deciding on the surface, but Tsonga played down the importance of the decision.
“It won’t have a big impact on the result,” said Tsonga. “All the players that will be involved are capable of playing well on all surfaces.”
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