In the first round of the 2017 Davis Cup World Group match, Japan will host France at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo, Japan on indoor hard court. The two countries will be meeting for the fourth time with the French team having won the previous three ties back in 1981 on their home soil of Roland Garros.
The Japanese team will be without their star man Kei Nishikori as he opted out of the tie while Yannick Noah decided not to include Gael Monfils in the French team, along with the absence of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Japan, on the other hand, will send a weakened team of Yoshihito Nishioka, Taro Daniel, Yuichi Sugita and Yasutaka Uchiyama. The French team is still strong with Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon, Nicolas Mahut, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert all prepared to be involved this weekend.
Opening day rubber
The opening day's action will see Taro Daniel face Richard Gasquet. While Gasquet is ranked inside the world's top 20, Daniel is ranked outside the top 100 at 114. Despite being the underdog, Daniel will have to use the crowd to an advantage if he is to beat the 29-year-old.
The two players have never met before thus making it their first meeting. In the second of the rubber matches, young rising star Yoshihito Nishioka faces the experienced Gilles Simon. While the two have never met, Simon comes in as the overwhelming favourite but the youngster can cause an upset as seen before. The 21-year-old has only made it past round one of a Grand Slam twice, recently at the Australian Open and at the US Open in 2015.
Experienced French no match for Japanese
The French team will no doubt line up with Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut while the Japanese team will rely on Yuichi Sugita and Yasutaka Uchiyama. The world number one duo are regulars on the team, playing week in week out, having won six titles last year with three of them coming at Masters level and one at Wimbledon.
However, in the Davis Cup, they are relatively inexperienced having only been selected for the Czech Republic and Croatia ties in the second half of the 2016 season. The Japanese pairing is not conventional doubles players, playing most of their tennis on the challenger circuit. The pair will need to get the crowd involved as much as possible and hope their opponents are not on their game, which will be tough.
Unless there are changes made, Richard Gasquet will face Yoshihito Nishioka in the fourth rubber. The Frenchman has struggled with form and a back injury, recently losing to Grigor Dimitrov in the Australian Open with the Japanese losing out to Roberto Bautista Agut.
Taro Daniel will face Gilles Simon in the crucial last rubber, should it come that far. This will be the first meeting but Simon as the former world number six should come through this match pretty comfortably.