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09 February 2006

Snow falls as Kiefer and Grosjean prepare for hot date


NEWS ARTICLE

By 

  • Chris Bowers
The draw has been made for the 2006 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group First Round tie between Germany and France in Halle:

Order of Play

Nicolas Kiefer (GER) v Sebastien Grosjean (FRA)
Tommy Haas (GER) v Richard Gasquet (FRA)
Tommy Haas/Alexander Waske (GER) v Arnaud Clement/Michael Llodra (FRA)
Tommy Haas (GER) v Sebastien Grosjean (FRA)
Nicolas Kiefer (GER) v Richard Gasquet (FRA)

Eagerly-awaited rematch

Not even the snow pattering down on the Perspex roof of a stadium normally associated with grass court tennis could dampen enthusiasm for one of the most eagerly awaited re-matches in tennis. Sixteen days after Nicolas Kiefer and Sébastien Grosjean played out a four-hour 48-minute drama at the Australian Open, the two players will open their countries’ 2006 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas campaign in Halle, after the draw left the schedule looking evenly balanced.

Both Kiefer and Grosjean say their quarterfinal on Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, which Kiefer won 8-6 in the fifth set, is now in the past, in particular the incident in which Kiefer threw his racket in jest after he thought he’d lost a point, only for Grosjean to miss a shot into the open court. That caused a little ill-feeling at the time, but the two men get on well, and the only legacy from Melbourne will be the confidence Kiefer clearly gained from his run to the semifinals.

“Australia was a big win for me,” says Kiefer, the German who speaks fluent French thanks to a French mother. “It was good for my confidence. I wanted to win more, and that’s why I won this match. I’m fit, I’m ready to go and I’m happy.”

Grosjean has the mild distraction of knowing his wife Marie-Pierre could go into labour with the couple’s third child at any time. The due date is two weeks from now, but Grosjean is trying to keep his mind on the tennis. “It’s not easy to leave home three or four weeks before the birth,” he said, “but I’m focused here for Davis Cup. I’m talking to my wife and kids every day, and I’ll be ready to go back after these tournaments.”

Gasquet gamble

France’s captain Guy Forget has taken a minor gamble in opting for Richard Gasquet in the singles. The 19-year-old, who only made his Davis Cup by BNP Paribas debut last July, is still struggling for form after a run of injuries late last year, but his breakthrough in the first half of 2005 means he comes into the tie as France’s top-ranked player. He is arguably French No. 2 behind Grosjean, but then the man he faces, Tommy Haas, is arguably Germany’s best player on current form despite being ranked behind Kiefer.

Close tie likely

Haas, who won his eighth title in Delray Beach at the weekend, goes into the second singles against Gasquet as clear though not overwhelming favourite. For Saturday’s doubles, the French are slightly favoured. Their pairing of Arnaud Clément and Michael Llodra won two very impressive doubles last year, but they come up against Haas and Alexander Waske, who are unbeaten in Davis Cup, though three of their victories have been in five-setters and Waske admitted there was an element of luck involved. It all suggests the tie could come down to a climax between Grosjean and Haas in the final rubber.

Germany’s captain Patrik Kühnen said his players were very keen to play in the Gerry Weber Stadium because they have all done well in the grass court tournament held here and enjoy the large numbers of people who populate the 12,300-seater arena. But with the Rebound Ace court being used for this tie playing relatively slowly, the French could feel the surface will suit them as much if not better than the hosts.


Related Davis Cup news on other websites

> Informationen auf Deutsch - DTB
> Infos en francais - FFT


Related Links on Daviscup.com

> Tie Information for Germany v France
> Scorecards and statistics GER v FRA

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