Tue, Feb 12, 2008 - Page 19 News List

France hopes to upset the US' Davis Cup ambitions

AFP , PARIS

France believe the swashbuckling talents of Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga can cut down defending champions the US when the two nations clash in a mouthwatering Davis Cup quarter-final in April.

The US, with a record 31 wins in the tournament, will start as slight favorites for the April 11-13 encounter with the tie to be played on home ground at Winston-Salem in North Carolina.

Buoyed by huge home support, the US saw off Spain 4-1 at the same venue in last year's quarter-finals, a victory wrapped up after just two days when Andy Roddick and James Blake as well as the formidable Bryan brothers doubles team swept to victory.

"We won't be favorites, and so we'll have the advantage of playing without pressure. It's motivating, especially when I know the Americans will fear us," said Tsonga, the surprise Australian Open finalist this year.

France haven't won in the US since 1927, the year they went on to win the first of their nine Davis Cup titles.

They reached this year's quarter-finals by seeing off Romania 5-0 while America eased past Austria 4-1.

"It will be a huge occasion against the best team in the world, in front of a packed stadium," said France captain Guy Forget.

"But we have very talented players whom I hope will be at the peak of their game just after Key Biscayne [Masters tournament]."

USA captain Patrick McEnroe admitted that France have two thrilling singles players, as well as a tried and tested doubles combination in Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement, but believes home ground will be key.

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