France Davis Cup captain Yannick Noah says world number one Rafael Nadal’s absence from Spain’s team in this weekend’s semi-final “changes everything”.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion has helped Spain capture the annual trophy four times, in 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011, but was ruled out of facing Noah’s titleholders in Lille with a knee injury.
The long-standing problem flared up again at the US Open when Nadal had to retire trailing two sets to love in his semi-final against Juan Del Potro last week.
“As a tennis fan I’m disappointed that he won’t be there,” Noah told a press conference at Lille’s Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Tuesday.
“As a captain, it changes everything for the match. The set-up is totally different, especially in terms of preparation.
“When Nadal plays, it’s almost (a certain) two points for Spain.
“Now, that changes and we have to adapt to it.”
With world number 55 Albert Ramos-Vinolas stepping in to replace the Spanish star Noah accepts that “of course we’ve got more chance”.
But he cautioned: “On paper the Spanish team are still better than ours.”
Joining Ramos for Spain are Pablo Carreno Busta (21st in the world), Roberto Bautista Agut (26), Feliciano Lopez (74) and Marcel Granollers (101).
Representing France are Lucas Pouille (19), Richard Gasquet (24), Benoit Paire (54), Nicolas Mahut (150) and Julien Benneteau (57).
Spain skipper Sergi Bruguera agree with Noah that Nadal’s absence has a massive bearing on the complexion of the Lille semi-final.
“It changes a lot, it changes everything, but it is like it is, and we have a very good team all the same.
“We’ll fight and see what happens,” Bruguera said.