Vancouver, Feb 8 (IANS) World No.13 Gael Monfils has confirmed he will be in the line-up for France’s Davis Cup tie against Canada starting Friday after injuring his knee at a domestic tournament last week.
The presence of the 25-year-old, a four-time winner on the ATP Tour, significantly bolsters an already strong French team, currently ranked fourth in the world, that got to the semifinals in last year’s Cup where they were knocked out by eventual champions Spain.
“I am pretty good. This morning I felt my knee was alright,” Monfils was quoted as saying by Xinhua. He suffered the injury Sunday in Montpellier at the Open Sud de France where he lost in the final to Tomas Berdych.
“As usual, I have a little pain but nothing serious. Hopefully, it will get better during this week but right now I feel great.”
French coach Guy Forget will be relying heavily on Monfils and World No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to come through in the singles matches in the first round of the World Group against 14th ranked Canada who are back in the top 16 after a seven year absence.
The 26-year-old Tsonga is in good form after opening his 2012 season with a win in Doha, his eighth career ATP singles title, where he beat Monfils in straight sets. At the Australian Open, he made it through to the pre-quarters before getting knocked out by Japan’s Kei Nishikori in five sets.
With an impressive 10-2 record in Davis Cup play, the Le Mans native said he is looking forward to representing his country once again.
“You know for me it is the best atmosphere,” said Tsonga. “All the time when I come on the court I have shivers and I am only too happy to be on the court to represent my country and fight for my country.”
The France team also including World No.36 Julien Benneteau and doubles specialist Michael Llodra.
Forget, who helped his country win the Davis Cup in 1991 and 1996 as a player, said it was his job to make sure his players were focused and not looking past Canada.
The two countries have only met once previously, in 1966 when France hammered the tennis minnows 5-0. But Forget pointed out Canada has some good young players such as Milos Raonic, the World No.28 and a two-time ATP Tour winner, and fellow 21-year-old Vasek Pospisil, who is 6-1 in Davis Cup play.
The team is rounded out by veteran Frank Dancevic and 39-year-old Daniel Nestor, a seven-time doubles Grand Slam winner who enjoys a 29-4 doubles record in Davis Cup matches.
With Canada playing in front of a home crowd at the sold-out 5,000 seat Thunderbird Arena, a venue built for Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, Forget said the Davis Cup was very different from other competitions because of the emotions.