Llodra warms to singles right on time as Davis Cup looms

Paris :Michael Llodra, long considered a doubles specialist, has been maturing into a formidable singles player which is a welcome transformation for France captain Guy Forget three weeks before the Davis Cup final.

With French number one Jo-Wilfried Tsonga out of the tie away to Serbia through injury and Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet still underperforming, Llodra could well be playing the singles with Gael Monfils.

"I am not going to lie to you, he has been earning points in the race to Belgrade," Forget told reporters at the Paris Masters, where world number 34 Llodra beat Russian 10th seed Nikolay Davydenko 7-5 6-1 to reach the semi-finals.

"He`s reaping the benefits of all his hard work. He`s aware of his capacities," added the France captain.

Llodra, who has 18 ATP doubles titles to his name as well as Australian Open and Wimbledon doubles crowns, only claimed his fifth singles title in Marseille this season.

"He is more rigorous and more ambitious, whereas before he was neglecting some little things," said Forget.

"He`s saying to himself: `It`s not impossible, I can do it, I have the right to dream`."

Llodra, who snatched a morale-boosting win over Serbian number one Novak Djokovic, the second seed, in the previous round on Bercy`s super fast court, now faces fourth-seeded Swede Robin Soderling for a place in Sunday`s final.

"He has the game to beat Soderling," said Forget, who like Llodra was an attacking, left-handed player.

"Players like Soderling like to hit it hard from the baseline. `Mika` refuses to get into that kind of game, he chips the ball and it unsettles them," he explained.

Bureau Report

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