TENNIS

Davis Cup Final: No surprises as France and Belgium name full-strength teams

France are seeking to win the trophy for a 10th time, although they have not lifted the trophy since 2001 while Belgium have never won it.

The rival Davis Cup captains, Johan Van Herck of Belgium and Yannick Noah of France, avoided surprises on Tuesday as they named their teams for the final in Lille on November 24-26.

David Goffin, who will be the highest-ranked player in the final at number eight in the world, will be joined once again in the Belgium team by Steve Darcis (76th in the world), Ruben Bemelmans (106) and Arthur De Greef (174), with Joris De Loore (279) as a reserve.

Van Herck said that Goffin’s victory on Monday over Rafael Nadal at the Masters in London was “a very good message for everyone”.

Noah retained the starting quartet that beat Serbia in the semifinal in September with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (15) and Lucas Pouille (18) as the No. 1 and No. 2, Nicolas Mahut (103) and Pierre-Hugues (80) as the doubles team and Richard Gasquet (31) as Julien Benneteau (57) as reserves.

Noah warned that his choice was not definitive. He can replace two of his four starters in case of injury or poor form up to the day of the draw on November 23.

“I will make my decision as late as possible,” Noah said at the French national training centre near Roland-Garros in western Paris.

“Julien is not far off,” Noah said of Benneteau. “He has surprised us, and, he said, himself. He played a magnificent tournament (reaching the semis at last month’s Paris Masters). He’s ready to play if we need him.”

Noah also said that Gasquet, slowed this season by a series of health issues (back, appendix), would be a credible alternative.

“Richard is capable of regaining his form quickly, Noah said.

Van Herck said he had left his selection late to keep “all options open”.

One Belgian doubt had been Darcis, who has been suffering an elbow problem.

“His elbow is fine,” Van Herck said at a press conference in Uccle, where the Belgian players, except Goffin, are training.

“He trained hard in the morning and played two hours in the afternoon, like everyone else,” Van Herck said.

France are seeking to win the silver salad bowl for a 10th time, although it has not lifted the trophy since 2001.

Belgium have never won the Davis Cup but they are appearing in their second final in three years. They lost in 2015 in Ghent to a Great Britain team led by Andy Murray.

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