France captain picks 4 players for Davis Cup camp
PARIS (AP) Despite their poor results at the Paris Masters, France captain Arnaud Clement is sticking with his regular players for the Davis Cup final against Switzerland.
Clement has picked four players - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon - for a training camp in Bordeaux ahead of the final from Nov. 21-23 in the northern city of Lille.
He can still make changes to the team ahead of the final although Clement said it's unlikely he will call up new players at the last minute.
''I think about other players too, but in my mind today, those who have a chance of going on court in Lille are the four players I mentioned, and I want to focus the preparation on them,'' Clement said at a news conference on Saturday.
No French player advanced past the third round in Paris but the French captain is adamant he is not worried before hosting a formidable Swiss team led by the in-form Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka.
''The players who had to stop because of injuries were able to play,'' Clement said. ''They played good matches, and that was a good thing. I believe this is positive. Now that they are reassured about their condition, they can focus on the Davis Cup. It is their main goal.''
Gasquet, who played a decisive part in France's win over defending champion Czech Republic in the semifinals, lost in the second round in Paris and has won just three matches in his past four tournaments. Simon's campaign was stopped immediately by Fernando Verdasco while Tsonga and Monfils bowed out in the third round, against Kei Nishikori and Novak Djokovic, respectively.
Monfils, who thought about pulling out from the event because of a knee injury, showed signs of improvement during a tight second set with Djokovic.
''Richard is extremely motivated by this Davis Cup. He has his mind set on it,'' Clement said. ''And I was very pleased with the level of Gael and Jo, also against players who are playing very well. They lost in the end, but I believe those matches were very interesting.''
France picked indoor clay to host Switzerland in a bid to thwart Federer's quest for a first win in the team competition. With the best-of-five series scheduled five days after the ATP finals, the French team is betting that Wawrinka and Federer - who qualified for the year-end event - will struggle to adapt to clay, a surface on which both Tsonga and Gasquet have beaten the 17-time Grand Slam champion.
Clement added that Julien Benneteau, who will also be playing at the O2 in London in the doubles tournament, could join his teammates in Bordeaux for the final days of the training camp from No. 10-16.
The Davis Cup final will be held at the 27,000-capacity Pierre Mauroy Stadium, under a retractable roof. France is third on the list of all-time winners and bidding for a 10th title. Switzerland is looking for its first.
Switzerland reached the final only once before, losing in 1992 against a United States team of Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, John McEnroe and Pete Sampras.