Neither Federer nor Wawrinka has bothered to play in a non-relegation match since then. However the French have stored chasing “La Coupe Davis,” which has been a shiny object of need of their nation for the reason that 1920s when the 4 Musketeers — Rene Lacoste, Henri Cochet, Jean Borotra and Jacques Brugnon — pried it away from Invoice Tilden and america.
In 1991, Noah, who was winding down his taking part in profession, helped put an end to a 59-year drought for France as captain of the staff that includes Man Neglect and Henri Leconte that upset Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and the People in Lyon.
It was a memorable victory when Davis Cup was nonetheless a precedence for the sport’s greatest skills. It was an much more indelible get together as Noah, a pop singer in addition to a French Open champion, led a conga-line dance to “Saga Africa,” a track from his current album.
Since then, France had received the Cup twice extra away from residence, most lately in 2001 in Australia. This yr’s celebration additionally had an antipodean air as Noah and his gamers and workers carried out their bicep-flexing model of the haka, a Maori struggle dance, within the locker room on Sunday shortly after Lucas Pouille overwhelmed Steve Darcis, 6-Three, 6-1, 6-Zero, within the fifth and closing match of a Three-2 victory over Belgium.
“There may be nothing extra stunning,” stated Pouille, wiping away the tears after the victory scrum on court docket had damaged up.
Pouille doesn’t have a lot body of reference. This technology of French gamers has lengthy been thought of one of many nation’s most proficient, however till now the veterans Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gaël Monfils and Gilles Simon had but to win a serious singles title or the Davis Cup.
Though Tsonga and Gasquet received factors within the closing, it took a youthful, much less skilled Frenchman to complete off the hunt.
Noah may have picked Gasquet for the decisive singles match, however he caught by Pouille, who had been picked aside in straight units by David Goffin on Friday.
Noah’s transfer turned out to be the suitable one, and it is going to be intriguing to see the place Pouille, simply 23, and males’s tennis go from right here.
Subsequent yr’s first Grand Slam match, the Australian Open, is shaping up as a conflict of generations.
There may be Federer, ranked No. 2 at age 36 and nonetheless close to his greatest on comparatively fast surfaces just like the cushioned acrylic laborious courts in Melbourne. He won the title in January by defeating Nadal and getting back from 1-Three down within the fifth set.
That was undoubtedly the match of the yr on a number of ranges.
Nadal had the ultimate phrase within the rankings, nonetheless, finishing at No. 1 in 2017 regardless of dropping all 4 of his matches in opposition to Federer, who, to be truthful to Nadal, restricted the duel to favorable floor by skipping the clay-court season.
The pleasant rivals received a doubles match collectively in the inaugural Laver Cup team competition and evenly divided up the spoils that mattered most when taking part in on their very own. Federer received the Australian Open and Wimbledon, working his profession Grand Slam singles title rely to a file 19. Nadal received the French Open and United States Open, elevating his profession complete to 16.
It’s attainable to think about Nadal, 31, catching Federer within the profession standings if he can stay wholesome. That, nonetheless, stays the massive if in males’s tennis, and extra knee ache spoiled the tail finish of Nadal’s season, forcing him to withdraw from the ATP Finals.
Usually paired with Federer due to their lengthy yin-and-yang rivalry, Nadal is, in reality, a part of the identical tennis technology as Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Wawrinka is 32. Djokovic and Murray are 30, and all plan to return in 2018 from six-month harm breaks of their very own.
That kind of prolonged hiatus labored to relaunch Federer in 2017. It will come as no huge shock if it did the identical for Djokovic or Murray. Age 30 isn’t any barrier in tennis anymore. A file 43 gamers aged 30 or over completed within the prime 100 this yr.
However the youthful set has momentum.
It was not simply Pouille who closed out 2017 in type. Three gamers of their mid-20s made huge strikes by season’s finish: Grigor Dimitrov, 26, beat Goffin, 26, to win the ATP Finals. Jack Sock, 25, won his first Masters 1000 event to qualify for the ATP Finals. All three are within the prime 10 and will do main harm in 2017, as may Milos Raonic, 26, and Kei Nishikori, 27, in the event that they, too, are in a position to return to well being.
Then there are the facility gamers of their early 20s: Alexander Zverev, 20, and Nick Kyrgios, 22. Zverev is already ranked No. four, however for now he’s nonetheless creating the endurance required for best-of-five-set tennis and has but to advance previous the fourth spherical in a serious. Kyrgios, still prone to physical breakdowns and mental lapses, didn’t get previous the second spherical in a serious in 2017.
Nonetheless, each gamers clearly have the expertise to maintain 2018 from turning into one other throwback season. Will they? Or will Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray or Wawrinka maintain off the challengers and provides us extra of the identical?
The start of the reply will are available Melbourne in lower than two months’ time.