Llodra eyes Djokovic Davis Cup deja vu
Originally published on: 01/12/10 14:45
Michael Llodra is hoping his recent victory against Novak Djokovic will be enough to convince French Davis Cup captain Guy Forget to pick the 30-year-old for a singles berth in this weekend’s final against Serbia in Belgrade.
With Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sidelined by a knee injury, Llodra, who reached a career-high ranking of No.23 after a banner 2010 season, is France’s No.2 behind Gael Monfils.
Llodra has been key to France’s Davis Cup success this year, winning four rubbers in all – two singles and two tie-sealing doubles matches – as France knocked defending champions Spain and Argentina to reach the final.
And the Paris native, who has been ranked as high as No.8 in the world doubles rankings, upset defending champion Djokovic at the BNP Paribas Paris Masters in October.
Former top-ten players Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon are also in contention for the second singles spot alongside Monfils, but Llodra hopes the psychological impact of his 7-6(6) 6-2 third-round victory in Paris-Bercy will be fresh in Forget’s thinking.
“I’m ready, but it’s up to Forget to decide,” Llodra said.
France captain Forget has until Thursday’s draw to name his starting singles players. Certain to be at the forefront of his mind is the fact that a Djokovic-Llodra rematch will not be played in the lightning quick indoor conditions that played into the Frenchman’s hands in Paris.
Djokovic for one expects any potential repeat at the cavernous Belgrade Arena to be “a completely different game”.
“I have never played on such a fast surface [as Paris], except maybe on grass,” Djokovic said. “It’s going to be much slower here.
“I don’t mind playing him,” Djokovic added. “I have beaten him in the past.”
Forget will also have to factor in Llodra’s potential place in Saturday’s doubles line-up alongside either Julien Benneteau or Arnaud Clement, but having twice won the Davis Cup as a player the 45-year-old is philosophical about his squad selection.
“All of our players must not be surprised if they are picked to play on Friday,” Forget said. “We will miss Jo, but these guys made it to the final without him, so they deserve to be in the final.”
While Llodra has proved to be France’s 2010 talisman, Djokovic has anchored Serbia’s journey to the nation’s first Davis Cup final. The 23-year-old has won all five singles rubbers he has played, helping the fledgling nation defeat the United States, Croatia and last year’s finalists, the Czech Republic.
Forget is all too aware of the threat the US Open finalist poses, but hasn’t overlooked Serbia’s strength in depth – after all, no man can win the Davis Cup single-handedly.
“It’s easier to play at home in front of your own crowd, but our real concern is the level of play of Serbian players,” Forget warned. “We know about Djokovic, but we are concerned about Viktor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic.”
Troicki and Tipsarevic are also vying for the second singles spot, with Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic keeping his cards close to his chest.
“It will be tough against either Troicki or Tipsarevic on Friday,” said Monfils, who will most likely face Djokovic on Sunday if the reverse singles rubbers are still live.