Beaten but not down
As you all know we have just had Davis Cup in France on clay, it was always going to be a tough ask of us against a very experienced and strong team with the depth that most captains can only dream about. Pat picked a young team which was brave of him and very forward thinking, I was honored to line up next to Lleyton and Chris Guccione as well as Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson, two of the best young guys coming up and two of my closest friends. We were up against a French team that had Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Giles Simon, Benoit Paire and Julien Benneteau, now if that is not a team with depth, I don’t know what is!!
I kicked things off against Gasquet which was a great experience, clay is clearly not my best surface but I am improving on it every time I get on the dirt and Richard was as smooth as silk from the first to the last ball. I started well and felt I could have taken the first set and had I done that I think I may have been able to chip away at him mentally but Richard showed why he is one of the worlds best and played an unreal tiebreak to slam the door in my face, he then got a foothold on the match by getting an early break and despite working my butt off he had too much for me on the day and ran away with the match 7/6 6/2 6/2. He said some nice things about me after the match, which he didn’t have to do and I respect him for that (on top of his great play), I will do everything in my power to prove him right that’s for sure!
Lleyton played next against Tsonga who is someone I have modeled my game on a bit, it was good to see him up close but not so good to see him against us and in such great form. Lleyton showed us all why he has been such a legend in the game by displaying the fire, determination and guts that have underpinned his competitive qualities throughout his career. Unfortunately Tsonga had too much on the clay and got the win in three to put France 2/0 up on day one.
Lleyton and Chris played the doubles on Saturday against Tsonga and Gasquet, I was so proud of the boys because they gave everything and at one point it looked like we were going to take the dubs as the momentum was really with the green and gold of Australia but the Frenchman turned it around and won in four to seal the deal and take the tie 3/0.
The last day was made up of dead rubbers and Pat decided to stick with me and also hand Thanasi his debut which I thought he gave a good account of himself in, in a two set loss to Benneteau. It is unreal to sit there and watch someone you have grown up with and played at every stage of junior tennis make their Davis Cup debut, I was pleased for Thanasi and his family and felt pretty proud of him and our journey together and I know there will be tonnes more situations like this for us both throughout our careers, what made it sweeter is that another one of the guys from our junior days was sitting alongside me too, Jordan Thompson will be pushing for a starting place in the not too decent future. I finished the days matches in a slug-fest of shot making and showmanship against the best athlete on tour, Gael Monfils. It was a fun match although losing is never fun but we had some great rallies and some awesome points, I even hit a tweener and won the point although Gael eventually squeezed me out 7/6 6/4.
We had some fun away from the court with the French team who I must add were a classy bunch and good to be around. We played some basketball (you can find the clip on YouTube) and I had a little one on one with Monfils, he loves his basketball too and is pretty good at it, he is someone I can see myself getting on with and hanging out with on tour, hes a good guy.
I left France for London, I am going to spend a couple of days there doing some training at my management companies academy which is called GTC Gosling in north London. Later in the week I will fly to Memphis where I am hoping for a main draw wild card but if not I will just play qualies, after that I will spend a few weeks competing in the States and South America before heading back to Australia for a training block with Simon and AK.
So the Green and Gold got beaten by Les Bleus 0/5 but I can assure you we are not down, we will regroup and come back stronger for the experience, we also have guys like Marinko, Matty Ebden and John Millman to come back and compete for places and with the team spirit Pat and Lleyton have created, I know that in time Australia will be challenging for the Davis Cup again very soon.
Thanks to everyone who sent supportive messages and tweets, it means a lot.