Gilles Simon has criticized the French Tennis Federation's approach to changing its Davis Cup captain, saying that the recently fired Arnaud Clement was not shown enough respect.
The federation announced about two weeks ago it would be reviewing the position and dismissed Clement on Friday. Yannick Noah was given the position on Monday.
Simon, who was understood to also speak on behalf of the other French players, told L'Equipe, “What happened was awkward at best, and at worst really disrespectful.”
After losing in the 2014 Davis Cup final to Switzerland, France fell in this year’s quarterfinals to Great Britain. Since then, there has been ongoing speculation about possible candidates for the captaincy, including Andy Murray's coach Amelie Mauresmo, who has said she is not seeking the position.
Simon said the review seemed like a charade to the players and that the federation had already decided to get rid of Clement beforehand. “If they wanted to take control back following the defeat in London, they should have said it right away,” said Simon. “It would have been much simpler. Things were badly done. It has created tension.
“When Arnaud learns people were contacted for the position before anything was said, definitely it is not good.”
Clement had been in the position for two years. With Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet said to be in favor of a new captain, Simon described a split in opinion among the team but indicated that they were united in their criticism of the process.
“Some had expressed their desire to change the captain, some wanted to keep [Clement], some were hesitant,” Simon told French radio station RTL. “The reaction of the group was not to what was done but the way it was done.”
Asked if he would play for Noah, who was critical of the team following their defeat in last year’s final, Simon said he did not want to discuss specific candidates but that the team would stay committed. “The goal is to win the Davis Cup,” Simon said.
Simon, Tsonga, Gasquet, Gael Monfils, and Julien Benneteau have been regular members of the French Davis Cup team over the past five years.