No grand slam winners but France have impressive depth

Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:55am EDT
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - France have a real chance of beating Switzerland in the Davis Cup final, even if Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka will stand in their way.

While the Swiss, who will play away, rely on the fitness of grand slam champions Federer and Wawrinka in the singles, the less illustrious French can boast impressive strength in depth.

Les Bleus, who knocked out holders Czech Republic 4-1 in the semi-final, have five top 30 players to choose from - an important consideration as yet another energy-sapping season draws to an end.

"France can choose the clay again, and they have five top players, so it's 50-50," said Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil.

Against the Czech Republic, who had won the two previous editions of the competition, France captain Arnaud Clement opted to leave Gael Monfils out of the first singles despite - or perhaps because of - his fine run at the US Open, where he reached the quarter-finals.

Instead, he picked a fresher Richard Gasquet to face world number six Tomas Berdych, who had also reached the last eight in New York the previous week and was lacking practice time on clay courts.

"Our strength is that the Czechs had to field Berdych while we could make do without Gael," substitute Gilles Simon explained.

Indeed, Berdych seemed to struggle and lost to Gasquet in straight sets on Friday and was clearly the weak point in Saturday's doubles.   Continued...

French supporters cheer their team during Gael Monfils' victory over Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol in their semi-final Davis Cup match at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris September 14, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau