France with 2-0 lead over Canada at Davis Cup

Tennis insider Robert Bettauer joins Rob Faulds to break down day 1 of the Davis Cup, which turned out to be a perfect storm for Vasek Pospisil and Canada, in going down 2-0 to France in the best of 5.

BAIE-MAHAULT, Guadeloupe — Canada’s undermanned Davis Cup team trails France 2-0 after Day 1 of their Davis Cup first-round tie.

Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., dropped a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 decision to Gael Monfils on Friday, then Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver lost to Gilles Simon 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.

In hot and humid weather conditions, No. 17-ranked Monfils needed just 85 minutes to dispatch the 245th-ranked Dancevic on the clay court of the 8,000-seat Velodrome Amedee Detraux, the biggest stadium in Guadeloupe.

"My game plan going in was all or nothing because (Monfils’) game style is to rally a lot of balls and I’m not going to beat him by doing that," said Dancevic, who was playing in 23rd tie for Canada. "So I needed to really go for it and take chances, but from the first point it was really tough. Shots that would normally have been winners he would get back. He was getting to everything out there. He was just better than me today."

Pospisil, ranked 44th, raced out to a quick 5-0 lead, but world No. 19 Simon settled down to rally past the Canadian.

"I don’t feel like he was the better player today and I feel like I was playing well. It was just the way I was feeling physically that made the difference. The conditions were tough and I felt really depleted," Pospisil said. "It becomes tough to stay sharp and make decisions quickly. He was just more fit for these conditions."

Canada is without its injured top player Milos Raonic, and also missing doubles specialist Daniel Nestor who didn’t travel because of an unspecified family matter.

Philip Bester and Pospisil are set to take on Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Saturday’s doubles rubber.

"Today is over with and we are down 2-0 which is a very big hole against this French team, away and on clay," said Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau. "But we believe we have a good chance to win the doubles (Saturday) and often the last point is the hardest to clinch for the other team."

Monfils, whose father comes from Guadeloupe, was initially reluctant to play there due to the long trip. He said after the match playing in Guadeloupe was "a dream."

"This is so far the biggest moment in my little career," Monfils said.

France is playing a Davis Cup tie in the French Caribbean islands for the first time after captain Yannick Noah convinced the French federation to stage the contest away from the mainland.

Monfils sealed his match with a backhand down the line, then pointed a finger toward the stands and tapped his heart with his hand.

Noah, who replaced Arnaud Clement following a disappointing 2015 campaign, is captaining the team for the third time after guiding France to Davis Cup titles in 1991 and 1996. He also led France to its maiden victory in the Fed Cup in 1997.