VANCOUVER, CANADA: It appears Canada have caught a break prior to the start of their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round tie against France, as the French will be forced to go without their second best player Gael Monfils in Friday’s singles action due to a knee injury.
The world No. 13 is in Vancouver and has practiced with his teammates all week, but captain Guy Forget has elected to leave Monfils on the sidelines and go with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Julien Benneteau as his singles players on the first day of competition.
“Gael wasn’t one hundred percent,” Forget said. “You know he came back from the Montpelier tournament where he hurt his knee a bit. I’d say he’s probably 80 percent and I believe Julien Benneteau at 100 percent is better than Gael at 80 percent.
“But Gael will be ready for a Sunday match. Julien is at the best ranking of his career and I know he wants to be on the court as much as anyone. I think when you play with that fire inside of you, I think we could have a surprise out here.”
Even without Monfils, France boasts a deep line-up that will present plenty of challenges for Canada. Tsonga will be a heavy favourite when he opens Friday’s play against Canadian youngster Vasek Pospisil, who is ranked No. 115 in the world, while Benneteau will face Canada’s top player Milos Raonic in the day’s others singles match.
Pospisil will also partner Canadian veteran Daniel Nestor in Saturday’s doubles action and they’ll face the French duo of Benneteau and Michael Llodra. The reverse singles are slated for Sunday.
The Canadians are hoping Raonic can hold his own in his singles match on Friday and they’ll need Pospisil to come up big in his hometown if they hope to pull off the upset.
“We’ll have our hands full with the depth of the French team - all these guys can play unbelievable tennis,” Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau said. “We have to take care of business. Milos will be matched up against a guy I think he can beat so that’s a good thing.
“For Vasek, when you play the world No. 6 you have everything to gain. You have to go after him. Vasek will be in a good position in front of his home crowd. I think it was a good thing that he was drawn first. For him being the first match, he’ll just warm up and the next thing he’ll know he’ll have to play. So I think it’ll be good.”
The matches will be played at the 5,000 seat Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre on the campus of the University of British Columbia. This is the first time in 20 years that Vancouver has played host to Davis Cup action. Tickets for the event sold out in 25 minutes.
The full draw is listed below:
R1: Pospisil (CAN) v Tsonga (FRA)
R2: Raonic (CAN) v Benneteau (FRA)
R3: Nestor / Pospisil (CAN) v Benneteau / Llodra (FRA)
R4: Raonic (CAN) v Tsonga (FRA)
R5: Pospisil (CAN) v Benneteau (FRA)
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Captain Martin Laurendeau (CAN) - 09/02/2012
Milos Raonic (CAN) - 09/02/2012
Captain Guy Forget (FRA) - 09/02/2012
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) - 09/02/2012