Villeneuve-d’Ascq – France captain Yannick Noah has warned against underestimating a Serbia team shorn of its top stars in this weekend’s Davis Cup semi-final.
France, seeking a 10th Davis Cup title but first in 16 years, are strong favourites to prevail in Lille to secure a final against either Belgium or Australia.
That is largely because the Serbs must make do without former world number one and 12-time Grand slam winner Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic.
But Noah said: “Even if Serbia doesn’t have its highest ranked players they’ve got nothing to lose and so they can prove very dangerous.
“There will be difficult matches, lost sets, I hope the least possible number of matches lost. The aim is to win three points and that’s never easy,” added the 1983 French Open winner.
“It’s up to us to pull off a feat which the public should be aware is not just a formality, we are not in Lille to play an exhibition match.”
The hosts are led by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (18th in the ATP rankings) and Lucas Pouille (22nd) in the singles, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the doubles.
Noah’s reserve is Adrian Mannarino, who was called up to replace injured Gael Monfils.
Noah’s opposite number Nenad Zimonjic lines up world number 80 Dusan Lajovic, Laslo Djere, Filip Krajinovic and himself in the doubles.
Serbia, featuring Zimonjic and the absent Djokovic and Troicki, won their sole Davis Cup title in 2010, beating France in Belgrade 3-2.
Noah meanwhile took a swipe at his former Davis Cup teammate Henri Leconte who last week derided Noah’s team, telling Le Parisian newspaper: “They don’t train, they don’t make the required effort… they’ve won nothing.”
In reply Noah told Tuesday’s press conference: “We’re not playing to reply to Henri Leconte.”
Belgium host Australia in Brussels also starting Friday with the final scheduled for November 24-26.