I usually travel hundreds of kilometers to watch live tennis, so it was a strange feeling to leave home, take the metro, walk about 10 minutes and be there in front of the Stade Pierre Mauroy, ready to attend the much expected Davis Cup final between France and Switzerland.
It’s kinda ironic that’s the only times I’ve been to a football stadium were to attend rugby matches (when I was a volunteer for the rugby World Cup in 2007) and tennis matches.
Despite the queue, it took only a few minutes to enter the stadium.
The road to the Davis Cup final has been quite a rollercoaster for me: the excitement when I learned Lille (my hometown) would stage the final, the disappointment when I wasn’t able to buy tickets, the relief when I managed to buy tickets (thank you Twitter), the doubts about the visibility from the category 4 seat. But here I am. The court, the crowd, the flags, the atmosphere, as soon as I sat in my place I knew it would be something like I never seen or lived before.
Skip the use
But first, a mini-concert by local band Skip the use. I honestly couldn’t care less.
First big moment of this historic Davis Cup weekend, the teams presentation. And no surprise, Federer is the most applauded player.
I look at the giant screen and I have a bad feeling: I see Tsonga’s face, he looks scared, exactly the same face he had just before his semifinal disaster against Ferrer at Roland Garros last year.
Unfortunately, I was right…
Tsonga vs Wawrinka
3 meters behind the baseline, the French number one can’t do anything to counter Wawrinka‘s powerful grounstrokes. He just can’t pull a ball in the court and keeps making errors after errors after errors. A really bad start for Tsonga. Wawrinka wins five straight games to clinch the first set 6-1:
27,432 spectators! The previous record for a tennis match (27,200) had been set in Seville in 2004 for the Davis Cup final between Spain and the USA.
Things look a bit better for Tsonga in the second set, he is more aggressive and Wawrinka starts making a few errors here and there. Second set for Tsonga 6-3, a little hope for the French fans:
Wawrinka breaks in the sixth game of the third set and leads 4-2. Tsonga then saves two set points at 2-5. Tsonga and the French crowd are on fire..
But it only lasts two minutes, the Swiss wins the third set and leads 2 sets to one. An early break for Stan in the fourth set, Tsonga looks resigned and nobody believes in a win from behind. Game, set, match Wawrinka 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-2. Switzerland leads 1-0.
Tsonga’s game was bad but his attitude was worst, he kept complaining for nothing, looked at times completely lost, and the only excuse he found for his non-match was that the crowd didn’t support him enough. Seriously…
Too much pressure on his shoulders? Too much expectations? Visibly still bothered by his right arm injury (he kept saying “J’y arrive pas” to Clément during the changeovers), he perhaps should have been preserved for Sunday’s reverse singles or perhaps Tsonga wanted to play this final at all costs because he missed the Belgrade final in 2010? In any case it is too late to change the course of the final now.
Monfils vs Federer
There had been much talk about Federer’s back injury during the week, his first serve is at 207km/h, the case is closed. A completely different match from the first rubber and a completely different atmosphere: Monfils is on fire from first point on and so is the crowd! First set Monfils 6-1:
He keeps the pressure on Federer in the second set: solid serve, powerful forehands, and 6-4 for Monfils:
Monfils leads two sets to none and I start thinking: please Gael, don’t go nuts!, because the last time both players met, at the US Open this year, Monfils led by two sets to none, wasted 2 match points in the fourth set, only to lose in five sets. This time, no regret for the Frenchman who is rock solid on serve: 6-1 6-4 6-3 in less than two hours.
When you watch Monfils playing like that, so focused, you can only ask yourself: what if? What if he had a coach? What if he had a more professional attitude? What if he had taken time to improve his technique. He probably would have been a top 5 and a perennial Grand Slam contender. I guess we’ll never know…
It’s now time to go home:
The pressure was on Monfils shoulders after Tsonga’s loss to Wawrinka, but Gaël delivered and beat Federer 6-1 6-4 6-3 in an electric atmosphere.
Photo and video credit: Miroslav
Read more Davis Cup coverage
First big moment of this unforgettable weekend: the teams’ presentation and the national anthems on Friday:
More Davis Cup coverage:
The countdown to the Davis Cup final has begun, follow our Davis Cup final coverage on Tennis Buzz!
Le compte à rebours a commencé, suivez toute l’actualité de la finale de Coupe Davis sur Tennis Buzz!
Wednesday 19 November
The Davis Cup was exposed in the Tennis Village in Lille today. Here are a few pics.
Quelques photos du Village Tennis inauguré ce midi par Martine Aubry et Jean Gachassin place de la République à Lille: des courts de mini-tennis, un court de padel, quelques stands et …. la Coupe Davis:
Tuesday 18 November
Wawrinka and Federer arrived in Lille yesterday: by Eurostar for Stan, by private jet for Roger.
Really disapointing behaviour by both players who avoided their fans who waited for several hours in front of the Hermitage Gantois and entered their hotel through the kitchen door!
Wawrinka et Federer sont arrivés à Lille hier après midi, Stan par l’Eurostar et Roger en jet privé. Tous deux ont évité leurs fans qui les attendaient depuis plusieurs devant l’Hermitage Gantois et sont entrés dans l’hôtel par la porte des cuisines! Lamentable…
French and Swiss players practiced for the first time today on the clay court of Stade Pierre Mauroy, see video below.
Français et Suisses se sont entraînés pour la 1ère fois sur la terre battue du Stade Pierre Mauroy.
I have tickets for Friday and Saturday’s matches, and that the view I will have:
J’ai des tickets pour vendredi et samedi et je verrai… ça:
— Eric Bruna (@ebruna1973) November 18, 2014
Monday 17 November
Lots of talk about Federer’s withdrawal and alleged dispute with Wawrinka in the press today.
Le forfait de Federer à Londres et son altercation avec Wawrinka font la une ce matin:
— Marc Walder (@marcwalder) November 17, 2014
Le "Daily Mail" y va franco… Et John McEnroe n'est pas le seul à avoir entendu ce vif échange de vestiaire samedi pic.twitter.com/6BTIPyvyzf
— Eric Salliot (@ericsalliot) November 17, 2014
Sunday 16 November
They’re coming! The French Davis Cup team is coming to Lille this evening, they will stay at the Hôtel Couvent des Minimes. The Swiss come tomorrow evening, they stay at l’Hermitage Gantois, a former 15th Century hospice that had been coverted into a 5-star hotel.
Ils arrivent! L’équipe de France de Coupe Davis arrive ce soir à Lille, ils logeront à l’hôtel Hôtel Couvent des Minimes, quai du Vault. Les Suisses arriveront lundi soir et logeront à l’Hermitage Gantois, un ancien hospice du XVIè siècle reconverti en hôtel 5 étoiles:
Photo credit: Velvet
Meanwhile in London, Roger Federer pulls out of his final against Novak Djokovic.
Pendant ce temps-là, à Londres, Roger Federer, blessé au dos, déclare forfait pour la finale des Masters face à Novak Djokovic.
Saturday 15 November
Today we have a look back at the 1992 Davis Cup lost by Switzerland and at the mythic 1991 final won by Henri Leconte and Guy Forget over the american dream team of Agassi, Sampras and Flach-Seguso.
Séquence souvenir: la finale 92 perdue par les Suisses contre les Américains, et la mythique finale 91 remportée par Henri Leconte et Guy Forget face à la dream team américaine d’Agassi, Sampras et Flach-Seguso:
Friday 14 November
Le judoka Teddy Riner, septuple champion du monde, dans cette pub Gatorade avec le néo-retraité Michael Llodra:
And seen in the tramway today, a poster urging people to use public transport to attend the matches.
Vu aujourd’hui dans le tramway, un poster incitant les spectateurs à utiliser les transports en commun pour se rendre au Stade (désolée de la mauvaise qualité):
Thursday 13 November
While the French Davis Cup team is training in Bordeaux and Federer and Wawrinka are battling in the London ATP finals, the team of Roland Garros head groundsman Bruno Slastan is preparing clay courts at Stade Pierre Mauroy.
Pendant que les Français sont en stage à Bordeaux et que Federer et Wawrinka bataillent au Masters de Londres, l’équipe de Bruno Slastan, responsable des courts à Roland Garros, commence la préparation des courts en terre battue au Stade Pierre Mauroy.
Wednesday 12 November
Autograph session with kids for the French Davis Cup team in Bordeaux.
Séance d’autographes pour les Bleus à Bordeaux:
No autograph session in sight for Les Bleus in Lille, but a few events are planned. The Tennis Village, Place de la République, aims to recreate the Davis Cup atmosphere in the center of Lille, to allow as many people as possible to participate in the event: mini-tennis, competitions, quizzes.. The matches will also be broadcast on a giant screen.
Pas de séance d’autographes prévue à Lille, mais des animations seront organisées Place de la République, pour essayer de recréer l’ambiance Coupe Davis dans le centre de Lille: mini-tennis, concours, quizz… Et bien sûr, les matches seront retransmis sur écran géant.
Tuesday 11 November
Captain Arnaud Clément picks Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau to play the final next week.
— FFT (@FFTennis) November 11, 2014
Head to head / Face à face
Tsonga – Federer: 5 – 11
Tsonga – Wawrinka: 3 – 2
Monfils – Federer: 2 – 8
Monfils – Wawrinka: 2 – 2
Gasquet – Federer : 2 – 12
Gasquet – Wawrinka: 1 – 1
Head to head on clay / Face à face sur terre battue
Tsonga – Federer: 1 – 2
Tsonga – Wawrinka: 2 – 2
Monfils – Federer: 0 – 4
Monfils – Wawrinka: 0 – 0
Gasquet – Federer: 2 – 2
Gasquet – Wawrinka: 0 – 1
SWI or FRA who will win the Davis Cup final?
- Switzerland (73%, 45 Votes)
- France (27%, 17 Votes)
Total Voters: 62
Monday 10 November
First training day in Bordeaux for Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon.
Début du stage d’entraînement à Bordeaux pour Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon.
Tuesday 4 November
— Swiss Tennis (@swiss_tennis) November 4, 2014
Saturday 1 November
Just a few weeks to go to the much awaited final between France and Switzerland!
Plus que quelques semaines avant la finale tant attendue entre la France et la Suisse!
Saturday 11 October
Behind the scenes of the Stade Pierre Mauroy that will host the final, read my report here.
Visite guidée du Stade Pierre Mauroy qui va accueillir la finale de Coupe Davis, lisez mon reportage ici.
Saturday 4 October
Bienvenue à Lille for the Davis Cup final! All you need to know if you plan to attend the final: how to get to Lille, buy some tickets and more.
A lire si vous envisagez d’assister à la finale de Coupe Davis: Bienvenue à Lille for the Davis Cup final!
Monday 22 September
— FFT (@FFTennis) September 22, 2014
Les Français ont choisi la surface sur laquelle sera jouée la finale de Coupe Davis entre la France et la Suisse, ce sera la terre battue (indoor bien sûr). Découvrez ici ce qu’est réellement la terre battue (article en anglais).
Friday 19 September
It is now official, the Davis Cup final France vs Switzerland will be played in Lille, my hometown! So stay tuned for news, photos and exclusive coverage on Tennis Buzz!
C’est officiel: Lille (la ville où j’habite) accueillera la finale de Coupe Davis entre la France et la Suisse! Suivez toute l’actualité de la finale sur Tennis Buzz!
#DavisCup La finale de la Coupe Davis France-Suisse se tiendra à Lille, au stade Pierre-Mauroy, du 21 au 23 novembre 2014
— FFT (@FFTennis) September 19, 2014
Also read/à lire aussi: