Noah not underestimating Britain in Andy Murray’s absence

ROUEN, France (AP) France captain Yannick Noah isn’t expecting an easy weekend against Britain just because Andy Murray is not playing in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

The top-ranked Murray was Britain’s leader when the country won the trophy two years ago, but the three-time Grand Slam champion is nursing an elbow injury.

In the absence of Murray, who is also a two-time Olympic champion, the 44th-ranked Daniel Evans and No. 47 Kyle Edmund will line up for Britain against France on Friday at the Kindarena on indoor clay in Rouen.

”All that I keep hearing is that we are favorites, and that because Andy Murray’s not here we’re going to win,” Noah said after Thursday’s draw. ”I keep trying to tell people: `No, it’s going to be very difficult.’ Evans and Edmund are good players. We’ve been doing a lot of video work.

”I can’t tell you what I saw, in terms of (their) strengths and weaknesses, but it’s going to be a very close contest.”

A weakened France team is missing 10th-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No. 11 Gael Monfils, leaving the 17th-ranked Lucas Pouille as leading player.

”He is very motivated for this test, but I don’t think he feels under any particular pressure,” said Noah, the last Frenchman to win a Grand Slam when he won the French Open in 1983.

Pouille will open against Edmund in the first singles match. Edmund won their only previous career meeting, on outdoor hard courts in Brisbane, Australia.

Friday’s second singles match will be between Jeremy Chardy and Evans, who have never previously met.

In Saturday’s doubles, Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut face Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray, a two-time Grand Slam winner in men’s doubles. In Sunday’s reverse singles, Pouille takes on Evans and Chardy is on last against Edmund.

On Wednesday, Noah made the surprise announcement that Chardy, a journeyman player ranked 68th, was replacing Gilles Simon, a former top-10 player with vastly more experience than Chardy.

What made the decision even more surprising was that Noah could have waited until Thursday to make it.

”Gilles has been playing Davis Cup for a long time, sometimes with victories, sometimes with difficulty,” Noah said. ”Jeremy’s new but he has nothing to lose. Over the last few days, I saw that he wanted to be here, that he was ready to play. He was at ease straight away on this surface and trained very, very well.”

Britain won the competition in 2015, while France, which lost the 2014 final to Switzerland and the 2010 final to Serbia, has not won since 2001.

It will be the first time that France and Britain face off on clay since the British team won 3-2 in the Europe semifinals in 1978 at Roland Garros.