‘It was the first time I could hear myself singing’ – French star blasts Davis Cup atmosphere

Davis Cup
France Davis Cup doubles pair

France avoided a Davis Cup shock defeat to Japan in Madrid on Tuesday before their players blasted the new format of the competition for destroying the atmosphere.

The Davis Cup was previously played in home/away ties, giving it the most partisan atmospheres in the sport, but that has all changed this year with a single host venue.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga easily beat Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-2 6-1 but Gael Monfils suffered a 7-5 6-2 loss to Yoshihito Nishioka, sending the contest to a deciding doubles rubber.

That decider was won by top doubles duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, despite them losing the first set, but was the tournament itself which was the talking point for them afterwards.

Mahut said: “It is a strange feeling. When you play Davis Cup, usually the stadium is full.

“But once you start and you play with France on the back, you forget everything. You play for yourself, you play for the captain, you play for the guys, and for people who are supporting us.

“We need to win to see if later in the week there will be more people in the stands.”

It was a huge contrast to their last match, the final 12 months ago, when a capacity crowd in Lille cheered on the hosts in their defeat by Croatia.

Herbert added: “Actually, it was pretty special because it was the first time I hear myself singing the Marseillaise song.

“For sure, for us, it’s so different. But we are only tennis players, we are not organising the events.”

Argentina, meanwhile, were comprehensive 3-0 winners over Chile in Group Three, with all their victories coming in straight sets, while Kazakhstan defeated Holland 2-1 in Group E.

Dutch number one Robin Haase upset Alexander Bublik to send the tie to a deciding doubles rubber, where Bublik gained revenge over Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer alongside Mikhail Kukushkin.

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