French team trains at venue of Davis Cup final
Mon Nov 25,12:55 PM ET
PARIS - France's Davis Cup team began training Monday on the indoor clay courts to be used in the final against Russia later this week.
"It's a delight to play on these courts," French captain Guy Forget said at the Bercy indoor stadium. "It would be hard to do better."
France will attempt to win back-to-back Davis Cup titles for the first time since 1932 when it plays Russia Nov. 29-Dec. 1.
Sebastien Grosjean, Arnaud Clement, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Fabrice Santoro and Nicolas Escude, who make up the French team, trained at Bercy for the first time Monday. They spent last week training in the west coast resort of Royan.
"The players got better and better," Forget said. "Now, we have three crucial days to reassure ourselves that everyone can play his best tennis."
Grosjean, France's highest-ranked player, is almost certain to play singles, while Escude and Santoro are widely expected to be picked for the doubles.
It's unclear who Forget will name to be the second singles player. He has until one hour before Thursday's draw at 11:00 GMT to decide.
"I have a small idea of what I'm going to do," Forget said. "But between now and Thursday things can happen. In any case, all the players are capable of playing and being on top."
In Monday training, Mathieu looked on form as he beat Escude in two sets.
The Russian team is led by world No. 3 Marat Safin and former French and Australian Open (news - web sites) champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Russia reached the final in 1994 and 1995 but has never won the event.
France is unbeaten in eight Davis Cup ties stretching back more than two years and has already won nine titles in the competition. The United States is the most successful nation in the event with 31 titles.
Forget keeps cards close to his chest
Posted on Monday, November 25, 2002 - 23:54
France Davis Cup captain Guy Forget kept his cards close to his chest on Monday but the signs are there will be no major surprises in Thursday's announcement of the final line-up to face Russia.
Forget, speaking in a press conference at the Bercy stadium which hosts the Friday to Sunday final, would only say: "If I'm sure of the line-up, I will announce it on Tuesday night (instead of Wednesday)."
Most observers believe Sebastien Grosjean and Arnaud Clement will play the singles, on Friday at least, and Fabrice Santoro and Nicolas Escude will play the doubles.
This would mean Forget will have resisted the temptation to field Santoro, who has beaten Russia's number one Marat Safin six times in seven meetings, in the Friday singles. The 20-year-old Paul-Henri Mathieu looks set to be a replacement.
Government security services were at Bercy on Monday, indicating French president Jacques Chirac may be present on one of the days.
Russia's former president Boris Yeltsin, a good friend of Russia's captain Shamil Tharpischev, is expected to arrive in the French capital on Thursday.
Both teams trained at Bercy on Monday and Tharpischev said the chances of either side winning was 50/50 despite the fact that the French have laid a special indoor clay surface.
"Both teams have an equal chance of winning, though France do have home advantage and were able to choose the playing surface," Tharpischev said.
"France are very strong however and are playing on their favourite surface, clay."
French Confiscate Goods from Russian Team Doctor
Tue November 26, 2002 07:31 AM ET
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian Davis Cup team doctor has accused French customs officials of confiscating all his medical supplies upon arrival in Paris Sunday.
"I don't know why, but customs confiscated all of my medical supplies, down to the very last pill," Valery Okhapkin was quoted as saying in Tuesday's Sport-Express newspaper.
The Russian team, including Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin, arrived in the French capital Sunday evening from Monte Carlo, where they had been making final preparations for the Davis Cup final against France. The five-day tie begins at Bercy sports hall Friday.
"I showed them an official letter from the Russian Olympic Committee which stated that I'm not carrying any (forbidden) drugs, narcotics, anabolic steroids or any other criminal staff," Okhapkin said.
"But they just told us they don't understand Russian, held me up for 2 1/2 hours, wrote thousands of reports and, in the end, confiscated all my medical supplies.
"They told us that we now have to translate everything into French and ask French tennis officials to act on our behalf."
The French are meticulous in pursuing all issues related to performance-enhancing drugs following a doping scandal in the 1998 Tour de France.
This year, French officials arrested the wife of Lithuanian rider Raimondas Rumsas after they found a large quantity of doping substances in her car at the border.
France delay naming team
France captain Guy Forget will not name his team to face Russia in the Davis Cup final until the draw is made on Thursday.
The French team comprises Sebastien Grosjean, Arnaud Clement, Nicolas Escude, Fabrice Santoro and Paul-Henri Mathieu.
Grosjean, his country's number one, seems certain to take one of the singles berths while Clement or Mathieu look likely to fill the other when the final begins on Friday.
Escude and Santoro are expected to compete in the doubles.
"I have a small idea of what I'm going to do," Forget said.
"But between now and Thursday things can happen. In any case, all the players are capable of playing and being on top."
Forget has until 1100 GMT on Thursday when the draw is made to name his line-up.
France, the defending champions, began training on the indoor clay surface at the Paris-Bercy stadium on Monday after spending the previous week in the west coast resort of Royan.
Mathieu in form
In Monday's training, Mathieu, who won two titles in October, looked in fine form as he beat Escude in straight sets.
"The players got better and better," Forget said.
"Now, we have three crucial days to reassure ourselves that everyone can play his best tennis."
The Russian team is led by world number three Marat Safin and former French and Australian Open champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
Russia reached the final in 1994 and 1995 but have never won the event.
France are unbeaten in eight Davis Cup ties stretching back more than two years and have won the event nine times.
Séb Grosjean ; Arnaud Clément ; Guillermo Coria; Marcos Baghdatis; Jo Jo Tsonga
Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick are arrogant pigs