France vs Serbia Davis Cup Semi-Final preview: France favourites against depleted Serbia
A depleted Serbian side travels to Lille to take on France in the semi-finals of the 2017 Davis Cup at the Stade Pierre Mauroy from 15-17 September.
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Without former world number one, Novak Djokovic, who is out for the rest of the season, and Viktor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic also missing, Serbia go into the tie as firm underdogs against a French side led by their top two players, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lucas Pouille.
France are back at the venue where they lost the 2014 decider to Switzerland, hoping to advance to their eighteenth Davis Cup final. The nine-time champions have not won the title since 2001. The French have been to the final three times since then, including in 2010, when they were beaten by a Djokovic-inspired Serbia.
France have cruised through the tournament so far, easing past Japan- who were missing Kei Nishikori- in the opening round, and sprinting past Great Britain - minus Andy Murray - in the quarter finals.
Serbia have also moved through the 2017 draw comfortably, dismissing Russia and Spain in the opening two rounds, but they did have the luxury of Novak Djokovic competing in each of those two ties. Is Djokovic’s absence terminal to Serbia’s ambitions in this semi-final or can the second-string visitors upset a formidable French side in Lille this weekend?
France vs Serbia Davis Cup squads
France have been quite flexible with their singles selection this year- although that has been partly down to injuries. Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon did the business in the opening round in Japan, Lucas Pouille and Jeremy Chardy filled in against Great Britain. Pouille will most likely be on singles’ duty again, but Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is back in the squad while Gael Monfils is expected to join up with the side as a fifth member.
Despite winning three titles this season- Rotterdam, Marseille and Lyon, it does feel like Tsonga has underperformed this season, particularly at the majors. He made the quarter finals at the Australian Open, but failed to cross the third round in any of the other two, including a shock opening round loss to Renzo Olivo at Roland Garros. The world number 18 is 18-7 in Davis Cup singles ties.
Like Tsonga, Pouille also has multiple titles this season (Budapest and Stuttgart), and a Masters 1000 semi-final in Monte Carlo- decent but one a lot more was expected from the Frenchman after his breakthrough 2016. Pouille will look to extend his positive 2-1 singles’ record in live Davis Cup rubbers in his fledgling career. In Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, the French have a formidable doubles team, and will expect the pair to deliver one point.
Serbia may be without their top three players, but they can still call on two top 100 players in Dusan Lajovic and Laslo Djere for this tie against France. Making up the squad are Filip Krajinovic and the familiar face of captain and doubles expert, Nenad Zimonjic.
Zimonjic is clearly the most experienced member of this team, while Lajovic is a distant second with seven wins in his 12 Davis Cup singles matches, including a win in each of the previous two rounds. World number 111, Krajinovic is 4-2 in Davis Cup singles rubbers, while Djere, the only other top 100 player in the squad, has been nominated as a squad member for the first time.
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