The crowds still came to the Palais de Sport in Lyon a city that loves its tennis and a city that has hosted some very memorable Davis Cup tennis even though the semifinal against Argentina of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas had been decided. In 1991 there was that amazing final when France beat USA as Guy Forget won the rubber against Pete Sampras to clinch victory.
This time Forget cherished a different position on court. He sat on the bench guiding his players to victory over Argentina. He would crouch down in front of them. Peer into their eyes and wave his arms about as if they were batons belonging to an orchestra conductor uttering instructions.
Guy is a revered figure in French tennis. His Federation and the players hang on his every word. Those words paid so many dividends as France took its 3-0 unassailable lead and then wrapped it up 5-0. In the reverse singles Gilles Simon defeated Eduardo Schwank 76 67 63 and Arnaud Clement defeated Horacio Zeballos 75 61.
Forget The Conductor
The Marsellaise echoed through the stadium as Forget with an appreciative smile across his face lifted his arms, almost like famed conductor Herbert von Karajan.
The crowd roared their approval as timpani drums sounded as a prelude to the chorus of the national anthem. This was a stadium filled with joy.
The euphoria will last for a short space of time because Forget and the new musketeers will start to look ahead to repeating this all over again in the final. At the time of writing France’s opposition was not known – if its the Czech Republic it will be in France and if it is Serbia it will be in Serbia.
“If we play the Czechs at home it will be nice because we lost to them last year and it would be nice to get revenge,” Forget said. “Obviously playing on your home turf is a lot easier, you have the crowd, you can choose the court and the balls and with the confidence we have at the moment, we’d be hard to beat at home.
Serbia has experience
“Now, playing Serbia, well that’s another story. You know how hot the crowd will be over there, wanting to win the Davis Cup for the first time. It would be a nightmare for the players but they’re not young and they have experience and will be ready for the task. They will have to play at their best and if we do that and win it will be one of the biggest upsets in Davis Cup, like we did a few years ago in Australia.”
Forget’s Frenchmen have become only the fourth nation since the advent of the World Group in 1981, to reach the final without losing a live rubber. In 1984 USA achieved that and Germany did it in 1988 and1993. However no team during this era has gone throughout the entire tournament without losing a live rubber ... something the French will be eyeing to achieve.