France Davis Cup captain Arnaud Clement gets the sack

PARIS (AP) The French tennis federation fired Davis Cup captain Arnaud Clement on Friday after growing tension between him and the players.

The federation said that Clement, who led France to a runner-up finish in the team competition last year, was dismissed because of his struggles to unite and motivate the team.

Clement, a popular player among fans, became France's captain three years ago a few days after ending his playing career. He said at the time his goal was to win the Davis Cup, something France last did in 2001. France lost to Britain in the quarterfinals this year.

Among Clement's possible successors is Yannick Noah, who captained France to the 1991 and 1996 Davis Cup titles. Noah is also the last Frenchman to win a Grand Slam title, the 1983 French Open.

Despite France's 3-1 home loss in last year's final to a Swiss team featuring 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, Clement was given a new two-year contract by the French federation last December.

Clement faced criticism after the final for deciding to send out Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the opening singles match, even though he sustained a forearm injury before the competition. Clement reproached Tsonga for not letting him know that he was not ready to play. Their discord reached a boiling point after the 3-1 loss to an Andy Murray-led British team in London in July, where Clement was angered by a perceived lack of commitment from Tsonga.

The French federation said the loss to Britain, ''which followed other disappointing performances,'' triggered a series of meetings that led to Clement's dismissal.

According to L'Equipe newspaper, Noah has recently spoken with France's main players - Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils - and wishes to meet them all before the Paris Masters in November.

''Regarding Yannick Noah, it is hardly a secret that he has showed an interest in taking over,'' French federation technical director Arnaud Di Pasquale said. ''It's a long process with many discussions taking place.''

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.