France and Switzerland are hoping to end the season on a glittering high this weekend as they go head-to-head in the battle for the prestigious Davis Cup title in Lille, live on British Eurosport.
Some of the most familiar names in world tennis will be in action at the Stade Pierre Mauroy over the course of the three-day final, including 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer as he aims to win his very first Davis Cup crown with the Swiss team.
This will be the 13th time that the two teams have met in the Davis Cup, with the French prevailing in their last clash in the quarter-final stages 10 years ago.
Historically, France has got the better of Switzerland, winning 10 of their 12 previous meetings, but the last four meetings in the competition have been split evenly and the away side has gone in to win in all of the last five meetings.
Both teams came through tough semi-finals in September, with France defeating the Czech Republic, who won last year’s Davis Cup, while the Swiss beat a strong Italy team who had beaten Andy Murray’s Great Britain side in the quarter-finals back in April.
The 2014 final is set to be a fascinating battle between some of the world’s top players, though the media’s attention in the build-up has focussed on the fallout from the anti-climactic at ATP World Tour Finals last weekend.
While Arnaud Clement’s French team have been getting prepared at training base in Bordeaux, Severin Luthi’s Swiss stars Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka have been slugging it out on indoor hard courts at the ATP’s season-ending championships in London.
Following an epic semi-final against his Swiss team-mate Wawrinka on Saturday night, a back injury forced Federer to pull out of Sunday’s final, which threatened to derail Luthi’s hopes of a grand finale in Lille.
This was coupled by the alleged spat his two best players were rumoured to be engaged in following the match on Saturday, with Wawrinka appearing to be upset by the actions of Federer’s wife Mirka in the crowd at a key moment in their semi-final contest.
Should Federer recover sufficiently from his back trouble in time for Friday’s opening singles rubbers, the world number two will be favoured to prove the decisive influence in the final in search of the biggest trophy missing from his, and indeed Switzerland’s, collection.
France, however, have a formidable team with five players in the world’s top 30 to choose from, including multiple Grand Slam semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the exceptionally gifted Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet, plus Julien Benneteau.
All four players have played a pivotal role in their country’s progress to final, especially in the 4-1 demolition of defending champions Czech Republic in the semi-finals.
It will not be easy for Federer and his Switzerland side on clay against a star-studded French team that will be backed by over 27,000 of its raucous home fans.
In fact, the attendance could exceed the 27,200 people who watched Spain defeat USA in the 2004 Davis Cup final, the largest crowd ever recorded at an officially sanctioned tennis match.
Aside from Federer, Switzerland also have a strong squad to choose from, including Wawrinka, who has struggled this year since winning the Australian Open in January but still remains a formidable force.
While the Swiss are looking for their first Davis Cup trophy in their first final since 1992, France is bidding to win its 10th Davis Cup title and its first since 2001.
If Clement’s men win next weekend, they will move above Great Britain into sole ownership of third place for titles won. USA has won the most Davis Cup titles (32), closely followed by Australia (28).
Federer has racked up an astonishing 17 Grand Slams and 82 career ATP titles over his glittering career, but a Davis Cup title is the only major tennis title that eludes him and he will be looking to put that right this week in Lille in the final of the world cup of tennis, live on British Eurosport.
British Eurosport will broadcast exclusive live coverage of the finale to the 2014 Davis Cup in Lille.
All five rubbers will be shown live and in full over the three days on British Eurosport 2 and in high-definition on British Eurosport 2 HD, with the tie starting on Friday, November 21.
Rob Curling presents the pan-European channel’s extensive on-site coverage of the event alongside former French Open champion Mat Wilander, with commentary duties will be shared between Eurosport regulars Simon Reed, Chris Bradnam and Jeremy Bates.
Live online streaming of British Eurosport’s coverage can be accessed via Eurosport Player (subscription required), plus there will also be additional reports and features via the British Eurosport website.
.FRANCE v SWITZERLAND Friday 21st November DAY 1: Singles LIVE: 12.30pm-6.00pm British Eurosport 2 Saturday 22nd November DAY 2: Doubles LIVE: 2.15pm-5.15pm British Eurosport 2 Sunday 23rd November DAY 3: Singles LIVE: 11.45am-5.00pm British Eurosport 2