Davis Cup Final – Time For Redemption?
November 21, 2018
In the tennis world, it doesn’t get much bigger than the Davis Cup final.
The occasion is certainly one worth the wait, as nine months after the first ball of the tournament was served, fans will finally be able to tune in to watch the deciding game of the competition. On 23rd – 25th November, France will take on Croatia at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, where both nations will be desperate to get their hands on the notorious International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy – its name is as big as the thing itself!
Often recognised as the ‘Tennis World Cup Final’, the upcoming fixture will have sports fans experiencing a real case of de ja vu as just four months on from the FIFA World Cup final, which saw France breeze past Croatia 4-2, the two nations will lock horns again on another grand stage.
Obviously, the two competitions have no direct correlation, but these sorts of occasions are what spur the greatest sporting rivalries. The two nations are certainly co-operative allies in the political world, but in the sporting world, they will commence in battle once again very soon. Despite being the outright favourite in the Davis Cup odds, Croatia have only won the event on one occasion (2005), but their impressive recent form would suggest that none of their stars will be fazed when they take centre court.
For France, this fixture is just all too familiar. Having featured in 18 different Davis Cup finals and winning 10 of them, the French are already a frequent feature in the competition’s history books. Will their dominance continue to reign, or will Croatia redeem their nation’s football heartache and start to create a tennis legacy of their own?
A Perfect Homecoming for France?
2018 could well be the year of the French. The country has never been short of sporting heroics, whether it be through the footballing icon of Zinedine Zidane, rugby star Serge Blanco or even the famous skier Marielle Goitschel. However, it is very rare that one nation dominates on multiple sporting fronts in a singular calendar year. Claiming both the World Cup and the Davis Cup would be considered one of the most successful sporting years in the nation’s history. And what better way to do it than on your own patch.
After blitzing past the Netherlands and Italy, France defeated Spain 3-2 in the semi-finals, much to the delight of the home crowd in Lille. Yannick Noah has certainly been flexing the muscles of his squad’s depth, utilising 8 different players since the start of the calendar year. The captain has announced that he will officially step down at the end of the season and his team will be desperate to provide the legend with a fitting send-off.
Lucas Pouille has been the name on everybody’s lips, boasting a 100%-win record across all three of his single’s fixtures. The world number 32 has certainly made a name for himself this year and at the age of just twenty-four, he looks to have a very bright future ahead of him. His Croatia counterparts may all have a much higher ranking, but the home crowd’s spirit will be enough to boost the belief of every single player that represents their colours.
The current phenomena of ‘Allez Allez Allez’ may well be heard around the streets of Lille if France can win the trophy on their home turf. A narrative that is fitting for a plot of a fairy-tale story, this potential script is on the brink of becoming a reality.
Croatia Here To Spoil The Party
It may not be orthodox to class the outright favourites as being the potential ‘party-poopers’, but an away trip in a sport’s final is never an easy task. Having said that, Croatia currently hold a strong reputation for their form on the road and will certainly be up for the task of raining on France’s parade.
Their last participation in the Davis Cup final resulted in a tiebreak to decide the match, where Argentina staged an incredible comeback to deny Croatia their second ever title win. Having sucked up the pain of this defeat, the national side has been on a steady course since. This year’s success has largely been down to two names – Marin Cilic and Borna Coric, with the duo establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the 2018 Davis Cup.
Boasting seven victories between them, the two players are without question, the predominant reason behind Croatia’s label as the favourites. Cilic, who is currently ranked as 7th in the ATP rankings, blew Kazakhstan out of the water before also looking equally as impressive against his USA opponent in Frances Tiafoe. Coric has also performed in similar prolific fashion, with his most imposing performance coming against Steve Johnson during the semi-finals.
If the trophy is to return to of south-central Europe, Croatia’s best chance of doing so lies with the aforementioned duo. The nation has not tasted Davis Cup final success since 2005 and they will not get a better chance to do so, than this upcoming weekend.
A Venue Fit For a Coronation
This will be the third time that the Stade Pierre-Mauroy has held the Davis Cup final and fans from around the world will be keen to make the journey over to Lille. As defending champions, France will be backed by the home crowd to become the first country to win consecutive titles for the first time in five years. In Noah’s final game as captain, it could be the perfect send-off for the French icon.
Croatia will, however, be strongly backed to upset France’s homecoming, as they currently are the outright favourites for the occasion. It is certainly a tough result to call but also an affair that should not be missed. As an event that runs over the course of the weekend, expect thrills, celebration and heartbreak. Will you be backing a home victory or an away day upset?
Here is where you can see the best Davis Cup betting odds
As an experienced sports writer, Josh has been published across various different platforms, writing about his beloved club Manchester United and other footballing topics. He also covers a range of other sports, specialising in UFC and Formula One.