ATP Cup: Why France's Stacked Lineup Makes Them Title Contenders
The depth and experience of Team France have immediately marked them as one of the frontrunners to prevail at the inaugural ATP Cup.
Gael Monfils, Benoit Paire, Lucas Pouille, Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin look to bring France out of Group A in Brisbane, where they’ll take on Serbia, South Africa and Chile. All five players have experience in team competitions and thrive on the opportunity to represent their country.
”I played in all the teams since I was 14 in France. I played under-14, under-16 and under-18. To me, French teams are really important,” Mahut said. “When you play tennis, you are mostly alone on the court or sharing good and bad moments with your coach. For once a year, you are with your teammates wanting to achieve the same goal. It is what I like in team sports.”
There are no weak links in the lineup. France is the only team with three players inside the Top 25 of the ATP Rankings.
Teams With Top 25 Singles Players
|France||3||Gael Monfils, Benoit Paire, Lucas Pouille|
|Russia||2||Daniil Medvedev, Karen Khachanov|
|Italy||2||Matteo Berrettini, Fabio Fognini|
||Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut|
||Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime|
Monfils returned to the Top 10 last month after an outstanding season that included an ATP Tour title in Rotterdam (d. Wawrinka) and semi-final finish at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Montreal. Paire re-entered the Top 25 on the back of tour-level crowns in Marrakech (d. Andujar) and Lyon (d. Auger-Aliassime). Pouille recorded his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open and reached the quarter-finals at the Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati.
The trio regularly practise and spend time together during tournaments, creating a strong bond over the years that will only deepen during the event.
”I like being on a team a lot. You can feel the pressure when you’re playing for your country, so I'm very happy to play in the ATP Cup,” Paire said. “Monfils is older than me and Pouille is younger than me, but I know them well and we are good friends. It will be interesting to be on the same team.”
Mahut and Roger-Vasselin bring a wealth of experience and success on the doubles court. Their combined ATP Doubles Ranking is the second-best among the 24 participating teams.
Best Combined ATP Doubles Rankings
|Germany||20||Kevin Krawietz (9) and Andreas Mies (11)|
|France||21||Nicolas Mahut (5) and Edouard Roger-Vasselin (16)|
|Croatia||27||Ivan Dodig (12) and Nikola Mektic (15)|
||Jamie Murray (23) and Joe Salisbury (22)|
||Austin Krajicek (42) and Rajeev Ram (24)|
The pair first teamed up at the pro level in 2002 and quickly hit it off, sparking a partnership that has only continued to grow. They’ve won six ATP Tour doubles crowns together and took the title this October in Tokyo (d. Mektic/Skugor), in addition to reaching their maiden Grand Slam final as a team this year at Wimbledon (l. to Cabal/Farah). Mahut also enjoyed success this season with another Frenchman in Pierre-Hugues Herbert, prevailing at the Nitto ATP Finals (d. Klaasen/Venus) Australian Open (d. Kontinen/Peers) and Masters 1000 event in Paris (d. Khachanov/Rublev).
Roger-Vasselin said, "We are coming from the same area in France, so we grew up [together]. We’re almost the same age, so we know each other for a long time. It’s definitely better to win with a friend and it helps on court to know each other for a long time.”
The depth of France’s lineup even extends to their captain, Gilles Simon. The veteran player is currently No. 55 in the ATP Rankings, which would be good enough to play singles on several of the teams competing this year. With plenty of experience competing against his teammates and their opponents, Simon will be able to offer valuable insight that could help lead France to victory.
”I am really excited to be on the court with him on the bench… [He’s] a good friend of mine,” Mahut said. “Tactically, he is really strong. He can see quick on the court.
”We will start in Brisbane and hopefully finish in Sydney (as part of the Final Eight). I want to see how this works. I am really excited about this competition.”