Davis Cup: Noah opts for Gasquet over Mahut in final

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The French Davis Cup team for the final against Belgium in Lille. From L-R: Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Yannick Noah, Richard Gasquet, Lucas Pouille; Getty Images
Instead of opting with the expected selection of Nicolas Mahut, French Davis Cup captain Yannick Noah has selected Richard Gasquet for the doubles rubber in the final between France and Belgium in Lille.

France captain Yannick Noah has surprisingly cut Nicolas Mahut from his squad to face Belgium in the Davis Cup final but declined to elaborate on his decision.

Noah, who has captained France to victory twice, instead included Richard Gasquet in his four-man team at Thursday’s draw.

Mahut was expected to play doubles after training the whole week with Julien Benneteau, who also was not selected.

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“I don’t want to speak about the players who are not there,” Noah said.

“It does not mean that I don’t think about them. Now we have a goal to achieve, the final starts tomorrow. I have four players ready to do their best and defend our colours.”

Mahut played with Pierre-Hugues Herbert at the ATP Finals in London last week but the pair had to withdraw because of Herbert’s back pain. They later joined their France teammates for a Davis Cup training camp.

Herbert said he has now fully recovered and Noah stressed that Gasquet is in “excellent” form following a season marred by injuries.

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David Goffin will open play for Belgium against Lucas Pouille on Friday, and Steve Darcis will follow against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Gasquet and Herbert, who have never played together in an official competition, are set to play against Ruben Bemelmans and Joris De Loore in Saturday’s doubles.

Belgium, in the final for the second time in three years, will count on Goffin in its quest for a first title.

Goffin arrived in Lille, where the hosts have opted for an indoor hard court, with his confidence boosted by a runner-up spot at the ATP Finals, where he beat both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

“I’m happy to start the first match,” Goffin said. “The key will be to play relax and to play my best tennis.”

The final

1 Lucas Pouille (FRA) v David Goffin (BEL)
2 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v Steve Darcis (BEL)
3 Richard Gasquet/Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) v Ruben Bemelmans/Joris De Loore (BEL)
4 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v David Goffin (BEL)
5 Lucas Pouille (FRA) v Steve Darcis (BEL)
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