• French Davis Cup stars head to Metz

    9/20/10 4:40 AM | Ricky Dimon
    French Davis Cup stars head to Metz Gael Monfils, Michael Llodra, and Arnaud Clement will give the Open de Moselle a French flavor this week. The trio is fresh off a victorious performance in the Davis Cup semifinals against the Czech Republic.

    After a one week layoff for Davis Cup following the U.S. Open, the ATP Tour is back in action with the BCR Open Romania in Bucharest and the Open de Moselle in Metz, France.

    In Metz, however, many participants did not have last week off. France played host to the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup semifinals Friday through Sunday and swept to a 5-0 win. Team members Gael Monfils, Michael Llodra, Arnaud Clement, and Gilles Simon are all making the short trip to the Open de Moselle.

    Monfils, who has a bye as the No. 2 seed and will therefore have several days of rest, won a crucial second singles rubber over David Nalbandian. Llodra, seeded fifth, opened the tie by defeating Juan Monaco and sent France to the final by teaming up with Clement for the doubles point. Simon, the No. 8 seed, won a dead singles rubber against Eduardo Schwank in a match that featured just one break of serve in three sets.

    Clement is the only unseeded entrant of the four, and the veteran will begin his Metz campaign against Lukas Lacko. The winner has the task of going up against No. 1 seed Marin Cilic, who took a late wild card into the event. Cilic, however, has been slumping since a torrid start to the year.

    Monfils and Llodra, arguably the two top favorites for the title, are in the same quarter of the draw. Llodra is one of the best indoor hard-court players in the business, so Monfils has a tough road ahead of him if he wants to defend his 2009 title.

    Simon appears to have a friendly draw in a section that also includes No. 3 Ivan Ljubicic, who has not been in the kind of form that took him to an improbable triumph at the Indian Wells masters. Dustin Brown, the entertaining Jamaican, could present problems for Simon in round one, but the Frenchman has a great chance of reaching the semis and beyond.

    Fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet and Spaniard Tommy Robredo are the two seeded contestants in the third quarter of the bracket. Denis Istomin, who gave Rafael Nadal a stern test at the U.S. Open, could meet Robredo in round two. Gasquet's opening match will come against a compatriot--either Paul-Henri Mathieu or wild card Adrian Mannarino.

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