Mauresmo replaces Escude as French captain

Amelie Mauresmo has replaced Nicolas Escude as France’s Fed Cup by BNP Paribas captain, the French Tennis Federation announced on Thursday.

“It is with great pride that I have been chosen as Fed Cup captain unanimously by the players and by the Federation, who have responded positively to the wish of the players,” said Mauresmo. “Today, the French team is experiencing some difficult moments. It is a very exciting challenge, difficult, certainly, but a great adventure is ahead of us. I hope I can bring an enormous amount to this French team.”

The former world No. 1 made her Fed Cup debut in 1998 and went on to play 21 ties over an 11-year period. She is France’s leading Fed Cup singles player with a 30-9 win-loss record and was instrumental in France’s title-winning campaign of 2003, winning all eight of her singles rubbers that year.

“I imagine my captaincy will feature a consistent presence at the tournaments. In order to have cohesion within the group, it is important to often spend time together all throughout the season when we are able to see the player’s development,” she continued. “But I don’t have a magic wand. The idea is to have a medium term and long term project. In my mind the project is long term.”

Mauresmo won 25 singles titles in her career, including two Grand Slams, and held the world No. 1 spot for a total of 39 weeks. She defeated Justine Henin in the final of the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006 and also reached the 1999 Australian Open final, where she lost to Martina Hingis.

The 33-year-old also represented France in two Olympic Games, losing in the first round in Sydney in 2000, but winning a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Mauresmo’s last Fed Cup tie in 2009 came in Escude’s first year as captain. He held the position for four years, during which time France were relegated to World Group II for the first time in their history.

Mauresmo’s maiden tie as captain will be the World Group II first round against Germany in February 2013.

“It is out of the question to begin, already resigned to being beaten,” explained Mauresmo. “If we do our best, we will have a good chance of defeating the Germans, who are a formidable team in World Group II. We hope to be back in the World Group within the next two seasons.”

“I am a happy president,” revealed FFT President Jean Gachassin. “A few weeks ago, Arnaud Clement was named Davis Cup captain. Today it is Amelie Mauresmo who has agreed to be the new Fed Cup captain. Amelie has been a great champion and she is also a person with both human and sporting values. Above all she has the Fed Cup spirit which for me is something very important. She knows how to defend the French jersey.” —- ITF

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