Paris: A noisy crowd, big stage and Roland Garros atmosphere could play an important part in France`s Davis Cup semi-final against record-chasing champions Czech Republic, according to old hands Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Radek Stepanek.
Tsonga, who leads a talented team of top 30-ranked players including Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau into this weekend`s tie, said the home crowd on familiar French Open clay would propel them to their first final since 2010.
"They give us energy to push the limits on the court so it`s going to be positive to have these crowds behind us," Tsonga, 29, told the Davis Cup website (www.daviscup.com).
Stepanek, who at 35 has seen more Davis Cup action than most, said the venue created its own excitement.
"It`s special when you come here for a grand slam tournament and it`s definitely even more special for us to come here and play for our country," said the Czech.
Stepanek holds the record for most games played in a Cup singles rubber since the advent of the tiebreak - 82 against lofty Croatian Ivo Karlovic in 2009.
"I believe the atmosphere is going to be incredible."
The Czech Republic are chasing a record third Davis Cup crown in a row. To do that they must become the first team since Australia in 2001 to reach a third successive final.
They are boosted by the return of world number six Tomas Berdych, who missed the 5-0 quarter-final win over Japan.
France had a tougher passage, recovering from 2-0 down to beat Germany 3-2 in the quarters.
In the other all-European semi, a Swiss team spearheaded by the third-and fourth-ranked players in the world, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, are firm favourites against Italy in Geneva.
The tie is being played indoors on a fast, hard court - an ideal hunting ground for Federer and his big-hitting compatriot, even after their recent exertions at the U.S. Open where the former was beaten by eventual champion Marin Cilic in the semis and the latter lost to runner-up Kei Nishikori in the quarters.
Italy, more comfortable on clay, are led by wily Fabio Fognini, whose classy straight sets win over Britain`s Andy Murray at home in the quarters was key to their progression.
The world number 17 is backed by Andreas Seppi, ranked 48th, Simone Bolelli, 76th and Paolo Lorenzi, 78th. Should Italy win they would have the advantage of hosting the final in November.
Two World Group playoff ties have had to be moved to neutral venues because of war and unrest.
Ukraine play Belgium in Estonia instead of at home in Kiev and Israel take on Argentina in Florida.
Other World Group playoff ties are India v Serbia, Brazil v Spain, Canada v Colombia, U.S. v Slovakia, Australia v Uzbekistan, Croatia v Netherlands.
Ties take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.