Tennis

France have dispelled losing mentality, says tennis legend Noah

Les Bleus' legend believes they have proved a point with Davis Cup victory

France's Davis Cup captain Yannick Noah reckoned that the "losing culture" of French men's tennis had been dispelled by the way his team had powered to their first Davis Cup title in 16 years yesterday morning (Singapore time).

One of the major Davis Cup nations, France had lost three finals since 2001, but the return of Noah as captain seemed to have transformed their mindset as they beat Belgium 3-2 to claim their 10th title.

His team also seemed to have been galvanised by a defiant streak after being branded as failures previously.

Lucas Pouille, who bagged the winning point with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 thrashing of Steve Darcis, even wondered aloud why reporters would not applaud the French team when they walked into the news conference room.

"We would have been more applauded if we had lost," he said.

LOSING CULTURE

Noah had taken charge in 2015, a year after Les Bleus were beaten in the final by Switzerland, their third consecutive defeat at that stage after losses in 2002 and 2010.

French tennis authorities then turned to Noah, believing that one of their favourite sportsmen might recreate the feel-good factor of when he had previously led the team to victory in 1991 and 1996.

"When you don't win for 16 years, everybody is getting used to losing. That losing culture, it was destroying me," Noah said at the post-match conference.

Unlike his predecessor Arnaud Clement, who had a much tougher task in 2014 when his team had to tackle Switzerland's Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka in the final at the same Pierre Mauroy Stadium, Noah's men had been expected to deliver against a team so heavily reliant on one player, David Goffin.

"When they got here, the Belgians were carefree while we had something heavy to carry," said Noah, whose 1991 upset win over the US had a very different feel.

Pouille, who felt he had proved a point with his decisive win over Darcis after criticism of his opening-day loss to Goffin, said: "I'm happy that I played like this after some had buried me on Friday."

The win restored France's reputation as Davis Cup powerhouses as they joined Britain on the list of all-time winners behind the US (32) and Australia (28).

The team led by Tsonga, have often previously been dubbed The Musketeers. This did not impress one member of the victorious French team, Richard Gasquet, though.

"We never asked to be named the Musketeers, it's grotesque," he said.

"I'm just very happy that we managed to win, we'd been trying to win it for a long time, it's fantastic." - REUTERS

Tennis