LILLE, France: A record crowd of 27,432 for an official tennis match and on French soil, but it all fell a bit flat for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The French number one, usually hugely popular with his own public, crashed 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 at the hands of Stan Wawrinka in the first of the rubbers of the Davis Cup final on Friday.
And afterwards he took a pot-shot at the French fans who massively outnumbered around 2,500 red-clad Swiss supporters inside one half of the roofed over Lille football stadium.
“It’s a bit what we expected,” he said.
“When the teams were introduced, they applauded Stan more than us, Roger (Federer) more than us. We hear the Swiss spectators more than we hear the French ones.
“Stan, for example, announced that the ball was out, and it was in. I just went to check the mark, and I was booed in my own country — maybe not by the French spectators but by the Swiss spectators. It’s annoying, you know.
“But we need to go and get the enthusiasm of the French crowd by the quality of our game. It’s because I was not winning today maybe that this happened. I’m hoping that for the next matches it’s going to change.”
There was no such problem for Gael Monfils who had the fans on their feet as he demolished Federer 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 with a typically swashbuckling display of tennis.
French captain Arnaud Clement was aware of the difference in support in the two rubbers, but said the nature of the matches had dictated the crowd reactions.
“Maybe for the first match they were not loud enough. But, you know, when the sets are played quickly, it’s a one‑way match, as it was, during the third and fourth sets (of Tsonga-Wawrinka) it was a bit tough for the crowd to get really involved,” he said.
“But when Gael played, the French crowd started to be louder. This is positive for the next days. I think the players will receive a lot of energy from the crowd, especially tomorrow (Saturday) during the doubles match, and maybe on Sunday, too.”
The new crowd record of 27,432, edged out the previous record of 27,000 set in 2004 when Spain beat the United States in the Davis Cup final in Seville.
The capacity for the 2014 final was put at 27,000 but with all tickets quickly sold out, means were found to add another few hundred to take the record away from Spain.