France Davis Cup captain Yannick Noah gambles on his team selection ahead of Great Britain clash

Eleanor Crooks
The Independent
The former French Open winner has gambled with his squad selection: Getty
The former French Open winner has gambled with his squad selection: Getty

Great Britain are hoping experience counts in their favour after France captain Yannick Noah took a risk in his team selection for the Davis Cup quarter-final in Rouen.

Noah dropped his original pick Gilles Simon in favour of French number nine Jeremy Chardy, ranked 38 places lower at world number 68 and thrust into his first Davis Cup tie since 2011.

Chardy will play the second singles match at the Kindarena on Friday against Dan Evans, the British number one for the tie, after 17th-ranked Lucas Pouille has faced Kyle Edmund.

With Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet injured and new father Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also missing, France, the strongest nation in men's tennis, will rely on two players with just six Davis Cup rubbers between them.

Explaining his decision to bring in Chardy, Noah said: "He was playing well. Coming to play on clay takes some time to adapt and he did it very well. I think the clay suits his game and from what I saw in the practice sessions he was really good.

30-year-old Chardy has been brought in from the cold (Getty)
30-year-old Chardy has been brought in from the cold (Getty)

"Gilles has been playing Davis Cup for a long time, sometimes successfully, sometimes it was more painful. As for Jeremy, yes he's new but he doesn't have anything to lose.

"I can see the way they play, the way they behave, the body language and the results when they play sets, I could really sense that he wanted it, he was getting ready to play, he was playing well.

"It's not easy to go and tell Gilles that he's not playing, that's for sure. Some people might say it's a good idea, some might say it's not but at the end I have to make the decision."

Simon has been left on the sidelines (Getty)
Simon has been left on the sidelines (Getty)

GB captain Leon Smith is relying on the same side that defeated Canada in round one in the absence of Andy Murray, who is recovering from an elbow injury.

France remain the favourites but Edmund and Evans can boast 24 Davis Cup rubbers between them and have both played winning roles in ties.

Smith said: "That can definitely help because it is a very different experience. There's a lot of expectation on the French team, they're favourites for this tie, they'll have the home fans.

"They've talked a lot about wanting success, Yannick's talked a lot about wanting success in this competition so there's a lot riding on it for them, as there is for us obviously."

Murray is absent with an elbow injury (Getty)
Murray is absent with an elbow injury (Getty)

Smith's main challenge in the build-up has been convincing clay-phobic Evans that he can play well on the surface.

Tim Henman, who had a similar game to Evans and reached the French Open semi-finals late in his career, has been offering his advice and Evans has spoken positively about the challenge.

But Smith clearly knows the chances of an Evans victory on Friday are very slim at best.

"In time I think he can play relatively well on the surface but at the start, certainly the first match (on clay) in a couple of years, it's going to take him time to put all the pieces together," said the Scot.

Henman has been advising Evans on his clay court game (Getty)
Henman has been advising Evans on his clay court game (Getty)

Evans and Edmund have mirrored each other's success over the last year, climbing into the top 50 and claiming notable scalps.

Noah said: "They are good players, up and coming, so we haven't seen everything yet. They can show better things. We respect them. We believe we are going to have a very close tie."

Saturday's doubles will pit Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau against Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot before the reverse singles on Sunday.

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