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Mag By So Press

Top 20 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas players: the Musketeers (2nd)
Kapat

Top 20 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas players: the Musketeers (2nd)

 

1. Because they made the Davis Cup mainstream...

 

... by notably achieving the huge feat of defeating the United States in Philadelphia in 1927. An incredible feat at the time, as the US team had been undefeated for 8 years, and had been so dominant in the competition that it had almost turned into a boring routine. But long series have one advantage : they always turn into a popular attraction when they end. Especially when their finale includes an unprecedented turnaround. During this 1927 finals, France became the first country to win the competition after losing 2-1 at the end of the doubles match. On both sides of the Atlantic, tens of thousands of readers rushed to buy the papers which related the encounter. For the first time, tennis stepped out of its high-class ghetto. And the other big winner, after the Musketeers, was of course the Davis Cup itself.

 

 
 

2. Because with racquets instead of swords, the Musketeers gave Bill Tilden, the undefeatable American star, the final blow...

 
...« Big up » to René Lacoste, whose win in four sets against Bill Tiden during this 1927 finals enabled France to equalise at 2-2, before Henri Cochet’s decisive win against Bill Johnston in the fifth match. To appreciate Lacoste’s performance even more, it’s better to contextualize it : defeating Tilden in the Davis Cup in 1927, in the US, was as impressive as defeating Roger Federer at Wimbledon or Rafael Nadal at Roland-Garros today. Picture this : with his square shoulders and his huge serve, Tilden had never lost a singles match before in the Davis Cup. Stronger than a despot, the American hadn’t even lost a single match, all competitions taken together, between 1920 and 1926. And who ended his incredible series ? Another Musketeer, Henri Cochet, during the 1926 U.S National Championships. The same Cochet also defeated Tilden in the 1928 and 1929 finals, even crushing him in the latter (6/3 6/1 6/2), which is, still to this day, considered to be one of the greatest performances ever produces by a French tennis player. According to witnesses, spectators even laughed seeing how easy it was for the Frenchman to outplay the American monument that day. “I felt like I was transported in another world, I was playing on this Central court without producing a single effort.”
 

 

3. Because they won it 6 times consecutively at a time when the competition was fierce…

 

... at the time, all the great nations were competing in the Davis Cup, with no exception made. During their six consecutive triumphs between 1927 and 1932, “les Bleus” defeating the United States again (in 1928, 1929, 1930 et 1932) but also Fred Perry’s Great-Britain (in 1931). There was only one hiccup : during the fourth match of the 1932 final, with France leading 2-1, Jean Borotra saved a match point, with the helping hand of the linesman, the only person in the whole stadium not to have seen that the Frenchman’s second serve was out...Borotra won a few minutes later 7/5 in the fifth set, before seeing the American Ellsworth Vines defeating Henri Cochet in the last match ! Today, no one remembers the anecdote. But during the summer of 1932, the linesman’s mistake provoked a huge controversy.

 

 
 

4. Because they always put the Davis Cup first...

... and even before Wimbledon or Roland-Garros. Henri Cochet and René Lacoste, even more than Jean Borotra and the loyal doubles player Jacques Brugnon, dedicated all their time and passion to tennis. Therefore, they should have, or could have, kept the Davis Cup trophy for longer. But Lacoste, who suffered from a pulmonary disease, had to retire at the age of 25, while Henri Cochet decided to turn professional after France’s defeat in the 1933 final. The last “survivor” of the group, Jean Borotra, only played doubles after that defeat and let less talented players such as André Merlin and Christian Boussus play in the singles. France had to wait 59 years before winning the trophy again.

 

5. Because Roland-Garros might have not existed without them...

 

... because their triumph in 1927 reactivated the project of building a big stadium to host the Davis Cup matches in Paris. Inaugurated hastily during the winter 1927-1928, the Roland-Garros stadium also became the host the French Open, which, until then, was played in the middle of the bois de Boulogne, at the cosy put small Racing Club de France. What would have been the destiny of the tournament without this stadium which changed everything ?