France clinch Davis Cup final spot
Originally published on: 19/09/10 15:49
Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement secured France’s place in the Davis Cup final – for the first time since 2002 – with a day to spare as Guy Forget’s side swept past Argentina in Lyon.
Tour veterans Llodra (30) and 32-year-old Clement defied their years to defeat Argentina’s Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos 6-4 7-5 6-3 and hand the French side an unassailable 3-0 lead after Llodra and Gael Monfils had each won their singles rubbers.
Summing up the team’s collective delight as they edged to within one win of their tenth Davis Cup triumph, Clement praised the Lyon crowd for spurring on the French team.
“This place is unbelievable,” he said. “Everybody loves tennis and loves the French team. The support we have on the tennis court is just amazing.”
Clement, who jubilantly kissed his partner after their doubles victory, added:
“It was magic with Michael. It was like we played yesterday. It is very easy to find Michael on the court and we know each other very well.”
Llodra had opened the tie with a 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-3 victory over Juan Monaco, before Gael Monfils defeated David Nalbandian 6-4 2-6 6-4 6-3 in the second singles rubber.
And after seeing his side seal the win in the doubles, captain and 1991 Davis Cup champion Forget gushed with pride.
“The emotions are here, the spirit is here, the quality of the players is unbelievable,” he said. “I am so proud to lead a team like this one.”
After his side’s convincing defeat ended hopes of a fifth Davis Cup final appearance in five years, Forget’s opposing number Tito Vasquez couldn’t hide his disappointment.
“We knew it was a difficult task to come here; we respect them like they respect us,” said the Argentinian captain. “Things didn’t go our way but that’s what happens in sport.”
Gilles Simon and Arnaud Clement wrapped up a 5-0 whitewash, with Simon defeating Schwank 7-6(5) 6-7(6) 6-3 before Clement eased to a 7-5 6-1 victory over Zeballos.