The French have been making a lot of noise and pointing fingers at entire countries in the last few weeks haven't they? Just my opinion, but were they doing that to distract people from asking why France, given the huge investment made in it's players, can be said to have the biggest bunch of underachievers in tennis right now?
I mean let's look at the facts. We saw the type of player Richard Gasquet is when he refused to go out and play a critical Davis Cup rubber for his country opting to play the meaningless dead rubber a couple of years ago.
Then there is Gael Monfils. When Gael is focused, and healthy, he is among the best on the tour but how many times have tennis fans seen him play brilliantly only to get distracted and go on walkabout?
Of the two I'd say more has been invested in Gasquet. His backhand has been described in rapturous terms by many fans and tennis writers. The infamous "Pamela" incident is something else that comes to mind when talking about the money the FFT has invested in the man who was declared the future of French tennis a few short years ago.
Why the discussion of French players?
The ATP WTF final was played Sunday afternoon. Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, officially coachless, played Roger Federer for the right to hoist the crystal trophy. Watching that match, with some of the eminences gris of French tennis courtside, Tsonga, in the second set, showed the best and the worst of the French system. The defining play for me came in the second set. Tsonga, who worked hard throughout the match, was in position to hit a cross court volley. He was practically standing on the net. Federer was out of position, and hitting cross court was the shot. Instead Tsonga went for the smash - and missed. Although Tsonga did eventually win the set in a tiebreak in my mind there was no way he was going to win the match. If Federer had had that same opportunity the cross court volley would've been played and he'd have had the point.
That is the difference between the French system and that of other European countries. Whenever French players have a chance to make a pedestrian shot for a winner they go for the bling, playing a high risk shot just because it would be so pretty.
So Jo ended up with the tray and Federer lifted the trophy. When the French decide to stop pointing fingers and have a serious discussion about what has gone wrong with their system the disappointing results can be turned around. It's not going to happen overnight but it can happen.
Daniel Nestor and Max Mirnyi are the WTF doubles champions. I watched a lot of the doubles play and Nestor and Mirnyi played good smart tennis all week.
The 2011 ATP season is now over. The Davis Cup champions will be crowned this weekend. 2012 starts in five weeks.