French Davis Cup dream lives on, says coach
French Davis Cup dreams were shattered once again in Lille on Sunday, the loss to Switzerland being the third straight for them in the final of one of the oldest and most prestigious events in sport.
Lille: French Davis Cup dreams were shattered once again in Lille on Sunday, the loss to Switzerland being the third straight for them in the final of one of the oldest and most prestigious events in sport.
In 2002, they lost 3-2 to Russia in Paris and in 2010 they also lost 3-2 to Serbia in Belgrade.
That means that they are stuck on nine wins overall, level with Britain in third equal place, in the long history of a tournament which is held in the highest esteem in France.
All the more galling it is because time is running out for a so-called golden generation of French players led by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon.
For all their talent not one of them has won a Grand Slam title and the Davis Cup title remains as elusive as ever.
Asked what had prevented his players from winning against the Swiss when everything seemed to be in their favour just a few days before the start of the final in Lille, captain Arnaud Clement said sheer quality had won through in the end.
"Honestly from the tennis point of view the Swiss team was superior, better than we were," he said.
"Maybe we could have used some details in our favour to turn around some matches and the tie. But if you look at the tie as a whole, you can see that the Swiss players are at a higher level than us.
"They`re top one (Federer is actually at two in the rankings) and top four of the world. We prepared for that as much as we could. But we knew that beating them would need an exceptional performance.
"So what we are looking for is maybe big victories on a regular basis in major tournaments during the year so that our players can be at a higher level.
"It`s a lot and a little at the same time."
There were excuses available for the French notably the right-arm injury that Tsonga aggravated at their training camp in Bordeaux.
He was clearly not at his best in losing in four sets to Stan Wawrinka in the first singles and he then had to pull out of the doubles and the reverse singles.
But the Swiss had their troubles too with Roger Federer`s back injury and the brief fallout involving him and Wawrinka the previous weekend in London.
But throughout the week in Lille, the Swiss came over as more relaxed and better prepared than the French.
According to France`s coaching technical director Arnaud di Pasquale, experience was key in Lille with Federer at 33 and Wawrinka at 29 having years of it behind them.
The French still have some time left on their side, he believes.
"They still have a few years to play. How old is Federer (33). He won the Davis Cup. That was the only trophy he didn`t have," he said.
"But our French players are younger and they still have very good years ahead of them. I am sure they really want to go and get this trophy. I don`t believe they will stop with this failure.
"We`re happy for the Swiss, but we can`t be happy even if it`s very good for Roger. So we lost this final again. After Serbia it hurts really badly.
"Of course they`ll bounce back and be back into it even stronger, I believe."