Noah hopes for ‘one more great memory’ in Davis Cup final against Croatia

noah hopes for one more great memory in davis cup final against croatia

France captain Yannick Noah hopes France can create "one more great memory" as they prepare to face Croatia in the Davis Cup final on home soil in Lille from Friday to Sunday.

France were crowned Davis Cup champions last year with a memorable 3-2 victory over Belgium on the final day at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.

But this final will be Noah’s last match in charge of the French team before he hands over the reigns to 2006 Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo.

“It’s going to be beautiful,” Noah said after celebrating the semi-final win against Spain in September.

“Just to have the opportunity to have one more great moment, one more special weekend of tennis.

“This is it for me. I made my decision at the start of the season about giving up the captaincy. I said I’m stopping, I have to go to another life where there’s less stress.”

However, France will be somewhat weakened in their singles nominees as their top-three ranked individuals in Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils are all ruled out through injury.

Noah will have to rely on Lucas Pouille and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to go up against top-20 Croats Marin Cilic and Borna Coric.

“There is a risk of injury caused by fatigue,” said Pouille, who is ranked at 32 in the world.

"In the end, they have made the best choice.”

Croatia and France will go head-to-head on a clay surface and Croatian doubles player Mate Pavic doesn’t believe it carries a weight of unfair favour to the French.

"They have a team that can play well on any surface," explained Pavic. "They adapt well. But I don’t see clay as a big advantage for them compared to us."

Croatia’s only Davis Cup win compared to France’s 10 titles came in 2005 with a 3-2 win over Slovakia.

They came close to a second honour in 2016, losing 3-2 to Argentina in Zagreb.

Cilic, who finished the singles season at the ATP Finals in London last week, says he takes inspiration from that 2005 win and expects a similar battle against France.

“It was incredible, one of the greatest sporting moments in our country's history,” said Cilic.

“It was great also for me being a youngster at that age, getting little bit extra help.

“For this new generation where I'm at, we are having great team, enjoying the team atmosphere. We're having another opportunity now. Two years ago we were close. I feel if we continue to play well, we can have a good chance.

“But still, it's going to be a fight, a big battle against France.”

Regardless of the result, this will be the last Davis Cup final of the traditional format before it is condensed into an 18-team tournament from 2019.

The new version will take place in Madrid at the La Caja Magica for the last week of the season in November.

Exiting French captain Noah believes players attitudes towards the competition will not change.

"It doesn’t come naturally,” he said.

“You all have to find ways to connect but if there’s one thing as a tennis player that you miss, it’s the opportunity to share and when you have that opportunity, it’s what makes the Davis Cup so special.”

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