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Noah ponders his doubles standards for Davis Cup final against Belgium

France captain Yannic Noah inspired Davis Cup victories in 1991 and 1996. AFP/Michal Cizek

It was a game of doubles bluff on Saturday in the prelude to the contest for the third point of the Davis Cup final between France and Belgium in Lille. France captain Yannick Noah initially lined up Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert as his men for the doubles match on Saturday.

The Belgian skipper Johan Van Herck proposed Ruben Bemelmans and Joris de Loore.


But Van Herck on Friday raised the prospect of using his top player David Goffin for the clash at the Stade Pierre Mauroy. Noah, who oversaw France Davis Cup wins in 1991 and 1996, suggested he might also shuffle his pack. The leading Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga added to the mix.

“I am prepared to play on the first, second and third day if necessary,” said the 32-year-old after his straight sets victory on Friday over the Belgian number two Steve Darcis.

The option to use the number ones emerged after both Goffin and Tsonga eased through their matches against the number two players.

In the first encounter an evenly matched opening set gave way to a Goffin masterclass. The 26-year-old oozed confidence as he cruised away from Lucas Pouille. It finished 7-5 6-3 6-1 after two hours.

Tsonga was on court for one hour and 46 minutes in his 6-3 6-2 6-1 dismissal of Darcis.

France are seeking their 10th Davis Cup in the 117 year history of the men’s team competition while Belgium – beaten finalists in 2015 – are looking for their first.

The winner of Saturday’s doubles match will furnish their country with a 2-1 lead in the best of five series going into Sunday’s matches in which the number ones battle for the fourth point followed by the decisive fifth match between the number two players.