Lucas Pouille and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will lead nine-time champion France in the opening singles against Serbia in the Davis Cup semifinals.
In the absence of Novak Djokovic, Pouille will take on 80th-ranked Dusan Lajovic on clay at the Pierre Mauroy Stadium in the northern city of Lille. Viktor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic are also missing for Serbia. Tsonga will then play against 22-year-old Davis Cup debutant Laslo Djere.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut are set to face Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic in Saturday’s doubles.
The countries are meeting for the second time after the Serbs defeated the French to win the Davis Cup title for the first time in 2010 in Belgrade. France last reached the Davis Cup final in 2014, losing to Switzerland.
While France is favored to reach the final, the outcome of the other semifinal pitting Belgium against 28-time champion Australia on indoor clay looks more uncertain. David Goffin will open against 185th-ranked John Millman before Australia’s top player, Nick Kyrgios, faces Steve Darcis. Arthur de Greef and Ruben Bemelmans will team up against John Peers and Jordan Thompson in doubles.
Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt was expected to field Thanssi Kokkinakis in the singles alongside Kyrgios but opted for Millman instead because of his recent results.
Millman missed the first four months of the year with a groin injury but made it to the third round at the U.S. Open, where he defeated Kyrgios in four sets in the first round.
“John is match hardened, he’s played a lot of five-set tennis, particularly in New York,” Hewitt told the AAP agency. “We have full belief in that he can do a job for us.”