When he was re-appointed France's Davis Cup captain two years ago, Yannick Noah said he had a "clear plan." The former French Open winner put it into practice, and brought back the Davis Cup trophy to France for the first time in 16 years on Sunday. Noah, a charismatic figure in France who became a successful singer, led France to its 10th title in the team event with a 3-2 win over Belgium in the final. Noah, who captained the team to his third victory after winning the Davis Cup title in 1991 and 1996, said the key to success was to end the "losing culture" that had taken hold of the French team.
"Over the past 16 years everybody got used to defeat," Noah said. "I had never felt that before and it destroyed me. I fully realized it during the semifinals. It was tough."
France had a relatively easy path to the title this year, while Noah's predecessor Arnaud Clement had to deal with the likes of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka in France's previous final against Switzerland in 2014. In victories over Japan, Britain and Serbia this year, Noah's players gained from the absence of Kei Nishikori, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, respectively. And in the final, apart from David Goffin, Belgium players were not up to the task. Back in 1991, Noah helped France create one of the biggest upsets in Davis Cup history when it captured its first title in 59 years by beating defending champion United States.
In contrast Sunday, anything other than a win would have been regarded as a failure.
"Now we are going to surf that successful wave," said Noah, whose future at the helm of the squad remains unclear. France joined Britain in third place on the list for the most Davis Cup titles, behind the United States (32) and Australia (28). France had won its last title in 2001, and lost in finals in 2002, 2010 and 2014.