With the destination of the Davis Cup determined, the professional tennis season has come to a close. Thus, we begin our look back at 2017, a memorable year on and off the court. Our Top 10 On-Court Moments, and our Top 10 Off-Court Moments, will remind you of everything that transpired.
There are few nations where Davis Cup means as much as it does in France. What is now center court at the French Open was originally built for a Davis Cup tie between France and the United States.
It does not have the best players, but it has perhaps the most players, the most committed players, and definitely a team as good or better than many that have lifted the Cup in recent history. The search for success included changes of captains, players, approaches—not to mention conflicts, standoffs, and almost a bathroom fistfight with Stanislas Wawrinka following the 2014 final. And still it had not won a Davis Cup title since 2001.
That all changed this season, as France returned to the winner's circle, defeating Japan, Great Britain, Serbia and neighbors Belgium to capture the team competition. Those teams were often undermanned but the French by and large were not. So maybe Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did excuse himself from a tie, but that was because he was just about to have his first child. And Jeremy Chardy scheduled his wedding the same week as the quarterfinals, but luckily wasn't needed on the team for that round.
But except for those minor prior appointments, the players showed up—and that was the difference. In front of 27,000 cheering, chanting fans, Lucas Pouille clinched the fifth rubber to wipe away the years of recriminations and turn the team into one of the country's biggest sports stories. Seven players took the stand to receive trophies for having played this season, and even more have competed for France in recent years. This was a team effort.
The re-instated captain, Yannick Noah, France's most recent Grand Slam champion and now more famous as a singer, called it a "beautiful adventure." It had also been a long journey.
Lucas Pouille's victory in the fifth rubber secured a Davis Cup win for France: