It will take every second to Lille. Opposed to Spain throughout the weekend at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, in the semi-finals of the Davis Cup, the team of France faces a challenge of weight and terribly complex: set foot in the final of the competition a second year in a row and try his first double in the Modern Era. A last major challenge before finally moving on to something else. Dreaded but adopted in August in Orlando, the new format of the competition will completely change the face of the Davis Cup from 2019. For the Blues, all opposed to the reform – player, captain and future captain, this change will change forever their daily lives.
The equation is simple for men hit by the rooster. A success and they will replay a last meeting of Davis Cup against the United States or Croatia at the end of November. A defeat and they will have to wait fourteen months before regaining the joys of Davis, whose new format offers a place in the final phase to the four semi-finalists of the previous edition. Waiting so long before pulling out the blue tunic would be a real heartbreak for this nation that has the "Davis Cup" tattooed all over the body. In Lille, Lucas Pouille and the Blues play more than a semi-final, they also "carpet" for their end of season and part of their calendar 2019.
The first doubled of the modern Era?
For Noah, who will make his captain's apron at the end of the year, this feeling of death has crossed his mind all year long. And this feeling is scary. "For me this is the last season so it is against the Dutch or the Italians, this feeling was scratching me: 'Will this be my last weekend?' But that, I put it aside very quickly. The event is so important", he acknowledged before putting himself on mission commando, job of captain obliges."Playing here is really important to us, it is exceptional to play in these conditions. We have automatisms here, we have very good memories here. Whatever the outcome of the meeting, we spent precious moments during these adventures and especially here in Lille. But here I am in the match. "
Passed the plane of emotions, there is also the historical significance of what awaits the Blues at the end of the season. Seeing them in the final two years in a row had only happened once since the 1981 reform, in 2001-2002. France had surprised Australia on its land, before experiencing a cruel outcome in Bercy against Russia a year later. The band in Forget, which has become Noah's band since 2016, would be in a similar position sixteen years later. Except this time, it is to complete the loop of the competition in its historical format. Such a performance would rank among the great achievements of its history because its double final of 2001-2002 remained to this day its only "back to back" since the period of the Musketeers (6 success of rank between 1927 and 1932).
Davis Cup exposed in France-Spain semi-finalGetty Images
" Our two teams are very close"
But before thinking of victory, to mark history and tutti quanti, the Blues will have to defeat an old enemy: Spain. More crossed since the semifinal lost at the 2011 edition in Cordoba (defeat 4-1), Roja has changed slightly face. Exit David Ferrer, who signed his last appearance in Valencia in the quarter-final against Germany in April and now in pre-retirement sports. Exit Fernando Verdasco, touched on the knee. Exit also Rafael Nadal, also injured his knee. Major absence of the composition of the Roja, Majorquin had however focused his end of season on the competition.
Without Nadal, Sergi Bruguera's Spain will be much more affordable. But not necessarily easier to beat. With Roberto Bautista, Pablo Carreño Busta, Albert Ramos and Feliciano Lopez, La Roja has arguments and experience to spare. The absence of the world No. 1 will leave a great void, but a vacuum that will go beyond the mere sporting aspect. Because his only presence was going to be all week long. "As a tennis fan, I am disappointed that he is not coming", Noah said Tuesday.
Two days later, his speech became firmer. "There is a very strong team in front. The fact that Rafa (Nadal) decided to play this year strengthens this team, even if he is not here this weekend. Spain is a homogeneous team and I think that our two teams are very very close. But we have a tight team and we are very motivated to try to win these matches and deserve a final. "