French duo Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire said having active player Gilles Simon as team captain gave them the winning edge in the ATP Cup against Chile on Saturday. Paire opened with a tough 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-3 win over Nicolas Jarry in Brisbane before Monfils triumphed 6-3, 7-5 over Cristian Garin. The Chileans salvaged some pride after combining to beat Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the doubles 7-5, 6-2. France is captained by world number 55 Simon, and both Paire and Gael Monfils credited the 35-year-old with helping them overcome their opponents.
“He was top 10, so he’s still playing. He has a lot of things to say about the opponent, about my game, so it’s good,” Paire said.
Simon reached a career-high world ranking of six in 2009 but is not playing the ATP Cup because of the depth of French men’s tennis.
Six of his countrymen are currently ranked higher than him in singles, while Mahut is ranked third in doubles and Roger-Vasselin 16th.
Monfils said he talked with Simon after Garin began to gain the advantage in the second set and changed his tactics as a result.
The world number 10 broke Garin’s opening service game and held the first set comfortably as the Chilean struggled to make any impact.
The Frenchman lost concentration early in the second and dropped his serve as Garin went ahead 4-2 and looked like forcing a decider.
“He had a very flat backhand which surprised me a little bit,” Monfils said.
“You can’t go really heavy on it and he was not moving so much, and with Gilles we figured out that we needed to change the height a little bit. We figured out that we should change slightly the tactics.”
Monfils then regrouped and broke back, breaking again to lead 6-5 before serving out the match in one hour and 20 minutes.