Michael Llodra has enjoyed a breakthrough year when it comes to Davis Cup, helping France reach the Final for the first time since 2002.
Despite being in the twilight of his career, the 30 year-old has showed that age is no barrier when it comes to representing his country.
Llodra has always played a key role on the doubles court for France, currently holding a 14-5 record, but it’s in singles play that he has shone during this year’s campaign.
The left-hander has been helped by his impressive form on tour, which has seen him win two titles already in 2010, at Marseille and Eastbourne, and rise to a career-high world ranking of No. 28.
Llodra turns his hand to singles
With Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils both available for France’s first round clash with Germany, Llodra was only needed for the doubles rubber, which he won with Julien Benneteau.
The quarterfinals and semifinals, against Spain and Argentina respectively, were a different story with Tsonga, the team’s top ranked player, absent due to a knee injury.
Llodra was called upon for singles action and he didn’t disappoint, defeating the higher ranked Fernando Verdasco and Juan Monaco on the opening days, both in four sets.
The three-time Grand Slam doubles champion also teamed up with Benneteau and then Arnaud Clement to clinch the crucial third point in both ties, sealing France’s passage to the Final.
Before this year, Llodra had never previously won a live Davis Cup singles rubber, making his heroics against Verdasco and Monaco even more memorable.
France now faces Serbia in the Final at Belgrade Arena, and Llodra’s services as a singles player are likely to be required again, as Tsonga is still struggling with knee problems.
Llodra beats Djokovic ahead of Final
Llodra also did his chances of playing singles no harm at the current Masters event in Paris, after he defeated Novak Djokovic 76(6) 62 to reach the quarterfinals.
Djokovic, currently ranked No. 3 in the world, is Serbia’s top player and the nation’s hopes of lifting an historic first ever Davis Cup trophy rest squarely on his shoulders.
So the fact that Llodra beat him a fortnight before the Final bodes well for the French, although one main factor will be different at the Belgrade Arena… the court surface.
The Masters event in Paris is being played indoors on a lightning-quick hard court, while the surface in Belgrade, despite being indoor hard, is expected to be much slower, playing into the hands of Djokovic.
Nevertheless, Llodra will enter the Final full of confidence, safe in the knowledge that if captain Guy Forget gives him the nod he is capable of producing the goods.