PARIS — Rising star Lucas Pouille and Gael Monfils have been selected to play for France in the Davis Cup semifinal against Croatia next week.
Pouille knocked out 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Sunday, and faced Monfils in the quarterfinals later Tuesday, guaranteeing a French semifinalist.
Pouille has played only one match for France, beating Jiri Vesely in the 3-1 quarterfinal win against the Czech Republic.
Davis Cup veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, also through to the quarters at Flushing Meadows, has again been selected by captain Yannick Noah, but Gilles Simon has been dropped. Richard Gasquet, ranked 15th, was also overlooked. He lost in the first round of the U.S. Open.
“It was an easy choice, there are no surprises,” Noah said. “They have all had good summers.”
The 11th-ranked Tsonga, a mainstay of the side since 2008, is expected to lead France in singles, leaving Noah with a tough choice between Pouille and Monfils.
“I can’t see myself picking between Lucas and Gael before their match,” said Noah, who cheered Pouille on from the stands during his win over Nadal.
Noah, the last Frenchman to win a Grand Slam, 33 years ago, will wait until the end of the U.S. Open to decide.
“A lot of things will come into the equation,” he said. “The shape the players are in, how they will recover.”
Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert, the world’s top-ranked doubles pair, complete the lineup for the match in Zadar.
They were still in doubles contention at the U.S. Open.
Tsonga has a 24-8 record, including 18-7 in singles. The 12th-ranked Monfils missed the Czech win and has a 12-2 record, all in singles.
France, meanwhile, has won nine Davis Cup titles and lost eight finals.
It is also trying to curb a losing streak. Since winning the title in 2001, beating Australia 3-2 in Melbourne, France has lost three finals, in 2002, 2010, and 2014.
Noah is wary of the motivational impact the passionate home crowd will have on the Croats, who will also be more rested than the French.
“The Davis Cup is important for their country, we’re playing at their place,” Noah said. “They will arrive quickly, have time to prepare.”