Tuesday, 26 March 2013 20:29
PARIS: French Davis Cup skipper Arnaud Clement on Tuesday revealed he would stick with the squad which beat Israel in the first round, leaving Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra to take on Argentina in their April 5 to 7 quarter-final.
Gilles Simon is on stand-by as a replacement, coming in for previous stand-in Jeremy Chardy.
Gasquet and Tsonga take the singles berths and Benneteau will partner Llodra in the doubles for the French, who lifted their ninth title in 2001.
Argentina have played in four Davis Cup finals but have never lifted the salad bowl trophy. Moreover, their record against France is poor five losses in five duels.
Only once have the nations met in Argentina the French winning 3-2 in 1982. France thrashed their rivals 5-0 in Lyon in the semi-finals three seasons ago.
This time, the South Americans will be without their number one Juan Martin del Potro, who is unavailable - but Clement says he remains wary of them.
"It is 50-50. Historically, playing over there is not easy. I think Argentina will play strong matches and be up for it. They have won 18 of their last 20 home matches," said Clement.
He noted that world number 15 Juan Monaco will be a threat and that David Nalbandian remains a match for top players on his day.
Carlos Berlocq and Horacio Zeballos make up the remainder of the home squad and Clement noted that "Zeballos has already beaten (Rafael) Nadal on clay. Even if he (Nadal) was just coming back (from seven months out with injury) not everybody can manage that."
Copyright Reuters, 2013