Ahead of the Davis Cup tie between France and USA where doubles pair Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau square up against Bob and Mike Bryan, the Frenchman offers a great tip for how to relax when the stakes are high
It could only have been a Frenchman using such a technique to relax his doubles partner. As Michael Llodra prepared to face Bob and Mike Bryan in what could be a decisive Davis Cup rubber in Monte Carlo this weekend, the 31-year-old Parisian recalled how the prospect of drinking a glass of fine wine helped him to turn around a match against the twins in the same competition four years ago.
The 2008 tie, like this weekend’s, was a World Group quarter-final. The United States led 2-0 after the first day at Winston-Salem and France’s Llodra and Arnaud Clement faced the Bryans in the doubles.
“We’d had some chances in the first set but we had lost it,” Llodra said, taking up the story. “It was a bit tense. In the second set I remember saying to Arnaud that even if we lost, that wouldn’t prevent us from drinking Chateau Latour that evening. From that moment onwards we relaxed and won the next three sets. It didn’t mean that we drank any Latour that evening, but it did us some good anyway. You have to know how to detach yourself from the occasion when you get a little tense.”
It was one of only two defeats the Bryans have suffered in 22 Davis Cup rubbers - the other was against Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic in 2005 - though the Americans went on to beat the French 4-1. “Arnaud and I played a superb match over there,” Llodra recalled. “Now I think they will want their revenge. We’re expecting a very difficult match. We know their qualities.”
This time Llodra is due to partner Julien Benneteau against the Bryans in Monte Carlo. The French pair enjoyed a fine victory over Daniel Nestor and Milos Raonic in Vancouver two months ago. “Julien and I showed that we’re capable of playing big matches too,” Llodra said. “That’s what we did against the Canadians in the last round. We’ll have to play the same type of match and be even stronger.”