Forget still critical of Moscow

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By (REUTERS) in Moscow
  • Published 25.11.03

Moscow: France’s victorious Fed Cup captain Guy Forget has stood by his criticism of the staging of the “final four” of the competition in Moscow, but said his team had enjoyed their time in the Russian capital.

Forget, who team beat the US 4-1 in the final on Sunday, said organisers deserved a “red card” for choosing Moscow over a Belgian venue as the top players were less likely to go to Russia at the end of a long season.

“We had a great stay in Moscow and I just regret that some of the best players were not here,” he said.

Many highly-ranked players were missing from the event, with losing semi-finalists Belgium having to do without world numbers one and two Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters and the Americans missing the Serena and Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati and Chanda Rubin.

In August, the International Tennis Federation chose the Russian capital to stage the semi-finals and final and Forget said last week the governing body had made their choice on financial grounds without thinking of the consequences.

“I have no regrets at all,” he said of his comments. “I made my remarks because I felt strongly about the future of Fed Cup competition.”

“We have to have best players playing in Fed Cup, especially in the finals. I would’ve come here no matter what. My stance had nothing to do with tennis politics as I would’ve played in Iceland, in South Africa, anywhere in the world.”

On Sunday, Forget became the second person to lead his country to both Davis and Fed Cup titles, matching the feat of Yanik Noah who captained France to their first Fed Cup crown in 1997 and a Davis Cup triumph in 1991.

Forget was a member of the 1991 team and skippered the 2001 side to victory over Australia in the competition.

Martina Navratilova’s record of never having been on the losing side in the Fed Cup since her debut in 1975 ended with the defeat against France, but her personal record remained intact.

Navratilova, four times a winner of the Fed Cup, teamed up with Lisa Raymond to give the Americans their only point of the final but not until after France had taken an unassailable 4-0 lead.

But when she and Raymond beat French substitutes Emilie Loit and Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-4, 6-0 the 18-time singles Grand Slam champion took her personal record in Fed Cup rubbers to an incredible 39 wins and no losses.

“It was a heck of a ride and we did the best we could,” said Navratilova, who this week at 47 also became the oldest player to compete in Fed Cup. “We had two close matches yesterday and I’m very proud of my team.”

Navratilova made her Fed Cup debut for Czechoslovakia in 1975 and helped her native country to the title that year. Later, playing for adopted home the US, she experienced triumphs in 1982, 1986 and 1989.