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Pouille to lead France in Davis Cup final against Croatia

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PARIS — Lucas Pouille will lead France in the Davis Cup final against Croatia this month as the hosts bid to win successive titles.

Pouille was the highest-ranked player among Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Jeremy Chardy, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the team picked by captain Yannick Noah on Tuesday

Pouille wrapped up France’s 10th Davis title last year by winning the decisive point against Belgium in the final.

France’s top player, the 26th-ranked Richard Gasquet, announced his withdrawal on Monday because of a groin injury.

In the absence of Gasquet, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon, Pouille is the best ranked French player at No. 32. Tsonga has been sidelined by a knee injury for most of the season and dropped to 261st.

On paper, the Croats are favorites with No. 7-ranked Marin Cilic and No. 12 Borna Coric.

But Noah said he was unfazed by statistics.

“The only thing I know is that our goal is to win against the Croats,” Noah said. “The mindset, the ability to adapt to clay, and the commitment to Davis Cup are what really matters.”

Like last year, the final will be at Pierre Mauroy Stadium in the northern city of Lille from Nov. 23-25 under a retractable roof.

Noah has summoned his players for a training camp nearby outside the city.

“It’s easier to work as a group away from all the excitement,” he said.

Pouille, Tsonga, and Chardy have already started training. Herbert and Mahut will join them after playing doubles at the ATP Finals in London. The pair lost its first group match and Mahut picked up a slight ankle injury after he chased down a ball close to the advertising boards and fell into the line judge’s chair. Noah said he would call Julien Benneteau as a replacement for Mahut if he can’t play in the final.

Noah, who guided France to Davis Cup titles in 1991, 1996, and 2017, will step down after the final, and Amelie Mauresmo will take over.

“I’m very excited,” the former French Open champion said. “It’s been two months that we have been preparing for this last final with my staff. I’m both motivated and excited.”

Andy Roddick returns for exhibition match to start New York Open

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NEW YORK — Andy Roddick is trying to get his shoulder ready, hoping he can still bring the high heat on serve.

The former U.S. Open champion will be back in town and wants to have his game with him.

“Coming back to New York is certainly not a place where I want to not play well,” Roddick said.

He will play fellow tennis Hall of Famer Jim Courier on Feb. 9 in an exhibition match to kick off the New York Open, event organizers announced Wednesday.

Wimbledon finalist and defending champion Kevin Anderson and top American John Isner headline the field in February for the second year of the ATP Tour event, which Roddick won three times when it was based in Memphis, Tennessee.

It has since moved to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale and Roddick says it remains a valuable tournament for players who want to prepare in the U.S. for the big events that soon follow in Indian Wells, California, and Miami.

He found that worked for him and it certainly did last year for Anderson, who used his victory on Long Island as the springboard for his first career finish inside the top 10 at No. 6. Isner, whom he beat in a marathon Wimbledon semifinal, finished 10th.

“You want to kind of find form early in the year. You can train as hard as you want, you can work as hard as you want, you can’t put confidence in a bottle,” Roddick said. “Sometimes I’d play well in Australia and then I’d feel good in Memphis. It kind of does give you a little bit of rhythm to your year and especially a guy like me or Kevin, who might not like the clay as much as some of the other guys, those first three months through March are super important.”

Americans Jack Sock and Sam Querrey, last year’s runner-up, will also be in the field of the Feb. 9-17 event along with Alex de Minaur, the ATP Newcomer of the Year who will turn 20 the day of the final and is also playing doubles with fellow Australian Lleyton Hewitt. Mike and Bob Bryan headline the doubles field after Mike teamed with Sock to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year while his twin brother was recovering from a hip injury.

Roddick rode his fierce serve – he had one timed at 155 mph in a 2004 Davis Cup match – to the 2003 U.S. Open title, the world’s No. 1 ranking and nine straight finishes in the top 10. Only 30 when he retired in 2012, he said he could still play with guys on tour until a couple years ago but estimated he played fewer than 10 times this year.

But the opportunity to come back to New York, where he and Courier will also co-host a “Taste of New York Open” on opening night, renewed his enthusiasm to play.

“Tennis has been a part of my life since I was 6 years old so you don’t want to just completely throw it away,” Roddick said. “So I was pumped, I was excited.”

Tennis broadcaster Justin Gimelstob accused of assault in LA

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LOS ANGELES — Tennis broadcaster and coach Justin Gimelstob faces a felony assault charge following his Halloween night arrest for allegedly attacking a former friend in Los Angeles.

The 41-year-old former pro player is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Gimelstob’s attorney, Shawn Holley, didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to an email and call seeking comment.

Gimelstob was arrested on suspicion of beating Randall Kaplan as they trick-or-treated with their kids. Kaplan says Gimelstob struck him multiple times and threatened to kill him.

Sean Walsh, a spokesman for Kaplan, says a motive is unknown. Kaplan alleges that Gimelstob previously threatened him because he was friends with the tennis commentator’s estranged wife.

Gimelstob won more than a dozen doubles titles as a player. He retired in 2007 and has since worked with the Tennis Channel.