Thursday, April 3, 2014
France favorite against injury-hit Germany
NANCY, France -- Julien Benneteau will play the inexperienced Tobias Kamke in the opening match of France's Davis Cup quarterfinal against injury-hit Germany on Friday.
The 12th-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga faces Davis Cup newcomer Peter Gojowczyk in the second singles.
Even without its highest-ranked player Richard Gasquet, who has a lower back injury, France is the big favorite against a Germany team without Tommy Haas, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer.
Kamke is the only player with Davis Cup experience and that amounts to two losses in the first-round tie against Argentina last year.
Germany is further hampered by Jan-Lennard Struff not being ready to play on Friday. Struff beat Benneteau and Michael Llodra in Marseille last month before losing to Tsonga in two close sets in the semifinals and was originally scheduled to spearhead Germany's challenge.
"That was the plan," Germany captain Carsten Arriens said. "He was the first guy I nominated after the injuries of the other players. But he played in Mexico last week and was playing semis in singles and doubles, so he arrived Monday evening, started practicing yesterday and he has jet lag and he's not really used to the court. He's playing for sure on Sunday.
"The main goal is always the victory even though it's very difficult obviously. We're playing with a new team, an inexperienced team. The main goal is the victory but we have other goals so that whatever the result, it is still a victory for us as a team."
Gael Monfils and Llodra are scheduled to face Andre Begemann and Kamke in Saturday's doubles.
France is looking for its seventh straight win over Germany.
"We are focused on us, on our preparation, and not about the injured German players," France captain Arnaud Clement said. "We know it's not easy for the German team, but they still have very good players with a lot of talent so for us the most important is to be ready tomorrow.
"I am a very lucky captain because I still have a very strong team even without Richard. Although I hope his back will be better soon, and he'll be back if hopefully we get through to the semifinal."