Noah puts discipline at the heart of Davis Cup project
PARIS (AP) Usually an image of coolness, Yannick Noah wants to use authority in order to bring back a winning culture within the French Davis Cup team.
Speaking in his first press conference since his appointment as the country's Davis Cup captain, Noah said on Tuesday that he won't tolerate any breach of discipline.
''A framework is required,'' said Noah, a day after replacing Arnaud Clement, who was fired last week following a disappointing 2015 campaign and growing tension between him and the players. ''Once the framework has been defined, if someone goes beyond the framework, he is out, without warning.''
Noah spoke at Roland Garros stadium, where he became the last Frenchman to win a Grand Slam tournament, back in 1983. The contrast between his authoritarian speech and his relaxed looks was striking: Sporting a grey cap, a cardigan on his bare chest and a long necklace, Noah said the current French players need to be chaperoned in a different way than over the past three years.
''I used authority in the past, I won't be afraid to do it again,'' said Noah, who will captain the team for the third time after guiding France to Davis Cup titles in 1991 and 1996.
Noah, whose biggest success as a player came at the French Open, already spoke with France's main players - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon. He said that they all agreed on his project.
''I have a clear plan,'' said the 55-year-old Noah. ''It's new to them, they never heard such a thing before,'' said Noah, without revealing the practical details of his approach. ''I told them that if we give it all, all together, we have a chance to win.''
France last won the Davis Cup in 2001 and finished runner-up three times since, in 2002, 2010 and 2014, the year Clement led the team to the final. After the loss to Switzerland last year, Noah had already expressed his interest in taking over, on the condition that players supported his nomination.
France's 3-1 loss to Britain in the quarterfinals this summer was a key factor in the federation's decision to sack Clement, whose deteriorated relationship with Tsonga also weakened his position.
''I know that we could have done better against Switzerland and against Britain,'' Noah said. ''I've read this morning that our players can't come out of their shells on important Davis Cup matches. But why? My job is to find the answer.''
Noah, who also captained France to its maiden victory in Fed Cup in 1997, has since reinvented himself into a successful singer. He is is adamant he hasn't lost touch with the current generation of players and that his age won't be a problem.
''I feel like I never left,'' he said. ''I've been in contact with the tennis world forever.''
Noah has committed himself to the French team for the 2016 Davis Cup campaign only and will decide at the end of next season if he keeps going for an extra year. He will announce the members of his staff before the Paris Masters in November.