Juan Martin del Potro has been backed to challenge Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic for the 2017 Australian Open title by former semi-finalist Pat Rafter. Del Potro has enjoyed a momentous 2016 that has seen him return from two years out with a wrist problem to reach the Olympic Games final, US Open quarter-final and win the Davis Cup with Argentina. In his opening rubber Del Potro brushed aside Croatia's Ivo Karlovic, and he produced another point in his second singles match as he came from a set down to beat Marin Cilic in a thrilling five setter.
PARIS — Yannick Noah will remain Davis Cup captain of France next season. The French tennis federation says the 1983 French Open champion, who was appointed in September 2015, will continue in his post in 2017. France last won the Davis Cup in 2001 and finished runner-up three times since, in 2002, 2010 and 2014. France lost in the semifinals to Croatia this year. The team will travel to Japan in 2017 in the first round. Noah, the last Frenchman to win the French Open, was reappointed in 2015 after guiding France to Davis Cup titles in 1991 and 1996.
Fed Cup heroine Caroline Garcia is taking a break from team competition to concentrate on singles play. The 23-year-old went 5-1 in Fed Cup singles this season, and also formed a winning combination in doubles with Kristina Mladenovic. In the final against the Czech Republic, she delighted the local fans with wins over higher-ranked opponents Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova in singles. But she and Mladenovic lost to Pliskova and Barbora Strycova in the deciding doubles rubber. "I won't play Fed Cup next year," she told French newspaper L'Equipe. "I want to put my concentration on WTA events and the Grand Slams, my individual career … My goal, it's to be Top 10.'' Garcia had what she described