The Hotel de Ville in Lyon gasped when the first singles name was read out for the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas semifinal tie between France and Argentina. The name was Juan Monaco. It wasn’t so much about Monaco, who is making his return to Davis Cup following a wrist injury, but what it meant for the second rubber on the opening day.
The second rubber has Gael Monfils playing David Nalbandian. The world rankings meant that Monaco is just ahead of Nalbandian and as a result Monaco was the Argentine’s No. 1 player and Nalbandian was No. 2.
The tie will start with Monaco taking on Michael Llodra who has a busy weekend being scheduled to play three matches, then it’s the one the teams and fans are looking forward to, Nalbandian and Monfils.
Exciting weekend ahead
Lyon is a city of culinary delights. It is one of the world’s greatest places for food with restaurants by the famed chef Paul Bocusse among those leading the way. So it’s obvious that this weekend of tennis promises to be as deliciously enthralling as some of the cuisine served in the restaurants around the city.
The doubles will see Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos, who reached the semifinals at the US Open, facing Llodra and Arnaud Clement, who teams up with his close friend in Davis Cup action following a two year absence.
The reverse singles will see Monaco and Monfils up first and closing out the tie will be Nalbandian and Llodra.
“David is one of the best players in the world indoors and on a good day he can beat the best players in the world,” French captain Guy Forget said. “We need the support of the crowd and hopefully by Sunday night we can win three points. I remember the crowds here in Lyon from a few years ago and they are behind all the players.
“David can be so good and hopefully Gael will be too. He’s a great athlete and David will have to play his best and Gael has to be ready to die on the court.”
Nalbandian meanwhile feels that Davis Cup was one of the prime reasons that he remained focused with his tennis while he spent months and months away from the game because of injury. He has made it quite clear that he missed the world’s greatest annual team competition and he wants to see his name on the Cup, something that has never happened for him or his nation.
“I didn’t start the year well but there was the hope to play Davis Cup always because I really like it,” he said. “Here we are in the Davis Cup semis and we are ready to fight.
“It will be a tough match against Gael, like it is against everyone else. There are no secrets, we have to play well to win ... it’s that simple.”
Michael Llodra (FRA) v Juan Monaco (ARG)
Gael Monfils (FRA) v David Nalbandian (ARG)
Arnaud Clement / Michael Llodra (FRA) v Eduardo Schwank / Horacio Zeballos (ARG)
Gael Monfils (FRA) v Juan Monaco (ARG)
Michael Llodra (FRA) v David Nalbandian (ARG)