LILLE, France — When Yannick Noah was appointed France’s Davis Cup captain for a third time two years ago, he said he had a “clear plan.”
Noah put it into practice, and on Sunday he helped bring the Davis Cup trophy to France for the first time in 16 years.
Noah, a charismatic figure in France who won the French Open in 1983 and later became a successful singer, led the country to its 10th title in the team event with a 3-2 win over Belgium in the final.
Noah, who also captained the team to titles in 1991 and 1996, said the key to success was to end the “losing culture” that he said had taken hold of the French team.
“Over the past 16 years, everybody got used to defeat,” Noah said. “I had never felt that before, and it destroyed me. I fully realized it during the semifinals. It was tough.”
France had a relatively easy path to the title this year. Noah’s predecessor Arnaud Clement, in contrast, had to deal with the likes of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka in France’s previous final against Switzerland in 2014.
In victories over Japan, Britain and Serbia this year, Noah’s players benefited from the absences of Kei Nishikori, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. And in the final, apart from David Goffin, Belgium’s players were not up to the task.
On the indoor hard court of the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, it was the 18th-ranked Lucas Pouille who ended the drought for France by winning the decisive match for the hosts.
Pouille’s 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 win over Steve Darcis in the second reverse singles match ended France’s run of three losses in finals.
“There are no words needed,” Pouille said after playing in a decisive fifth Davis Cup rubber match for the first time. “Just look at the atmosphere and the emotion. We really wanted this trophy, and finally we got it after 16 years.”
Pouille had lost his two previous Davis Cup matches — including his opening singles against Goffin on Friday — but was in total control against Darcis and did not face a single break point.
“Too bad for those who had buried me on Friday,” Pouille said. “I wanted to destroy everything on court.”
France joined Britain in third place on the list of the most Davis Cup titles, behind the United States (32) and Australia (28).
France had won its last title in 2001, and lost in finals in 2002, 2010 and 2014.
Published at Mon, 27 Nov 2017 00:47:03 +0000