07 May 2017

France wins eighth World Team Cup men's title

News Article

Photo: Mathilde DusolStephane Houdet (FRA)

France won its eighth BNP Paribas World Team Cup men’s title on Sunday in Alghero, Sardinia after Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer wrapped up a 2-1 victory over second seed Great Britain after a deciding doubles rubber.

As the two nations met in the men’s final for the second time in three years Rio Paralympic silver medallist and world No. 7 Alfie Hewett repeated his success in 2015 by taking the opening singles rubber.

Two years ago Hewett’s win in the first singles match came against the now-retired Michael Jeremiasz, but this time Hewett beat another higher ranked Frenchman, defeating world No. 5 Nicolas Peifer 63 63.

Hewett built on an early break of serve to open up a 4-1 lead over and maintained his level to see out the first set.

It was Peifer’s turn to break at the start of the second set for a 2-0 lead, but Hewett broke Peifer’s serve to love to draw level at 3-3, a breakthrough that proved decisive and the 19-year-old carried the momentum through to secure his fourth win against Peifer in their last five meetings and take a narrow 5-4 lead in career head-to-heads.

Two years it was Gordon Reid that played Peifer to close out Great Britain’s first ever World Team Cup men’s title. However world No. 1 Stephane Houdet proved to be sterner opposition in the second singles rubber this time, quickly opening up a 3-0 cushion that was enough to secure the first set.

After an exchange of serves at the start of the second set Houdet and Reid split the first six games equally between them, but Houdet continued to apply the pressure and took the last three games for a 64 36 win that guaranteed the title would be settled in the doubles rubber.

A rematch of the Rio 2016 Paralympic men’s doubles final promised much after Wimbledon champions Hewett and Reid had beaten Houdet and Peifer on a hard court for the first time at last month’s SA Open Super Series.

However, on the day the Paralympic champions were the stronger partnership, earning a 5-1 first set lead and winning all the big points in the second set to wrap up a 63 60 victory and complete a successful title defence for France.  

"The World Team Cup is about so much more than tennis," said Houdet. “It means a lot because it’s not only the eighth, it was probably the toughest one to win having started the second singles 0-1 down and I played against Gordon, the Paralympic champion.”

“In my mind I had like a dream, for us to replay the doubles final in Rio, so to go for that one I had to win that singles and that’s what happened, so I’m very, very happy with the win. Sardinia is one of my favourite places to be, I would love to have a house here and I like the atmosphere and I love the Italians. And the atmosphere today, also, the Brits they are very noisy, very supportive, but very fair play also, so it’s a lot of enthusiasm around the courts, which I love, too.”

Belgium completed the men’s medal podium. After reaching the semifinals for the very first time Belgium beat Poland 2-1 after another deciding doubles rubber.