France vs Spain Davis Cup semifinal recap

One year after the semi-final against Serbia, deprived of Djokovic, France hosts Spain … deprived of Nadal, injured. Nadal’s absence changes everything and the tie loses a lot of its interest. The French are now the clear favorites to reach the Davis Cup final for the second year in a row, the third time in five years. A feat that hides the catastrophic results of the French players in Grand Slams this year and somehow confirms the supporters of the Davis Cup reform.

Un an après la demie-finale contre la Serbie privée de Djokovic, la France reçoit l’Espagne … privée de Nadal, blessé au genou. Le numéro un mondial absent, cette rencontre perd beaucoup de son intérêt et les Français sont hyper favoris pour atteindre la finale pour la 2ème année consécutive, la 3ème fois en 5 ans. Un exploit qui masque les résultats catastrophiques des Français en Grand Chelem cette année et conforte les partisans de la réforme de la Coupe Davis.
Le fan club officiel de l’équipe de France a troqué samedi le maillot bleu pour un maillot noir, en signe de deuil et d’opposition au nouveau format. Qu’en pensez-vous? Etes vous pour ou contre ce changement?

Here’s the recap of my Davis Cup weekend:

France vs Belgium Davis Cup final

Three years after the France vs Switzerland final, the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Lille hosts a final between two neighbours: France and Belgium. It was my third Davis Cup final in 3 years, and once again a rollercoaster of emotions. Read my recap here:

Davis Cup semifinal: France vs Serbia

Enjoy my recap of the France vs Serbia semifinal:

2014 Davis Cup final: Swizerland defeats France

Relive Switzerland‘s 3-1 triumph over France last year:

2014 Davis Cup final

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.

2014 Davis Cup final

Despite the queue, it took only a few minutes to enter the stadium.

2014 Davis Cup final

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.

2014 Davis Cup final

Skip the use

But first, a mini-concert by local band Skip the use. I honestly couldn’t care less.

2014 Davis Cup final

Teams’ presentation

First big moment of this historic Davis Cup weekend, the teams presentation. And no surprise, Federer is the most applauded player.

2014 Davis Cup final

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

2014 Davis Cup final

3 meters behind the baseline, the French number one can’t do anything to counter Wawrinka‘s powerful groundstrokes. 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:

2014 Davis Cup final

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.

2014 Davis Cup final

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:

2014 Davis Cup final

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

30 minutes later it’s time for Federer and Monfils to enter the court.

2014 Davis Cup final

2014 Davis Cup final

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: