Five talking points ahead of France v Great Britain

06 April 2017 02:39

Great Britain are taking on France in the Davis Cup quarter-finals in Rouen this weekend.

Leon Smith's side are once again without world number one Andy Murray, who is recovering from an elbow injury.

Here, we look at some key talking points ahead of the clash, starting at the Kindarena on Friday.


Britain have made a habit of pulling off big victories in Davis Cup since Smith took over the captaincy seven years ago but this would be the most unlikely of the lot. Beating France at the same stage two years ago was arguably the key to Britain's title triumph but that was on grass at Queen's Club and with Murray. The indoor clay of Rouen is a much less friendly environment for the British team and, while France are also missing their leading players, they have much greater strength in depth.


Dan Evans has made no secret of his dislike for clay and had avoided playing on it altogether for almost two years prior to this tie. Virtually all of his previous matches on the surface have come on the Futures Tour, the lowest tier of professional tennis, so this is a huge step up. Smith and Evans have sought advice from Tim Henman, who had a similar game style and came through his own struggles on the surface to reach the French Open semi-finals in 2004.


Evans will go into the tie as British number one but the chances of victory are likely to depend largely on Kyle Edmund, whose game is well suited to the red stuff. Edmund stepped up impressively in the absence of Murray against Serbia last summer, beating Janko Tipsarevic and Dusan Lajovic to earn victory for Britain. The calibre of the opposition here is higher but Edmund is now a top-50 player and his huge forehand makes him a danger against everyone.


French captain Noah, an eccentric character, sprang a surprise on Thursday by dropping Gilles Simon in favour of the lower-ranked Jeremy Chardy. Already without Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet through injury and new father Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France, the strongest nation in men's tennis, will go into the match with two singles players who have contested just six Davis Cup rubbers between them. Lucas Pouille, the number one for the tie, is undoubtedly a big talent but only made his debut last year.


One of the unique things about the Davis Cup format is the importance it places on the doubles rubber. Britain's strength in it has been key to their success, with American twins Bob and Mike Bryan the only team to defeat Britain since 2009. Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot pulled off an excellent win against Canada in the first round in February and face an even bigger challenge this time. Although injury to Pierre-Hugues Herbert has robbed Nicolas Mahut of his regular partner, Julien Benneteau is a high-class stand-in.

Source: PA