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Yannick Noah: The tennis great set to captain Team Europe at Laver Cup

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Team Europe has a new captain at the Laver Cup – but it’s not the enduring star that some expected.

With Andre Agassi confirmed as Team World captain from next year, many thought that Roger Federer – the mastermind behind the event – would take over as the head of the European team.

But it was announced on Wednesday that Yannick Noah would captain Team Europe starting in San Francisco next year, taking over from Bjorn Borg when the Swede steps down.

Noah is not the expected pick, but he is certainly an inspired one.

French Open milestone

Noah is best remembered for winning his home major in 1983 – making him the last French player to claim men’s singles glory at Roland Garros.

The sixth seed crushed compatriot Christophe Roger-Vasselin – dad of doubles star Edouard – in the last four, before shocking defending champion Mats Wilander in the final.

Henri Leconte is the only French male player to reach the singles final in Paris since Noah – doing so in 1988 – and Noah remains the last ATP player from his country to win any singles Slam.

He was a hugely successful player, reaching the last four of the Australian Open in 1990, reaching a career-high of third in 1986, and winning 23 career singles titles.

He was also the men’s doubles champion at Roland Garros in 1984 and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005 after retiring in 1990.

Read More: Andre Agassi lands top coaching role – Roger Federer to follow in his footsteps?

Experienced captain

This is not the first captaincy role that Noah has taken on – and Team Europe certainly finds itself in safe hands, considering the success he has had leading France’s Davis and Billie Jean King Cup teams.

The year after his retirement, he led his nation to its first Davis Cup victory in 59 years, guiding his French squad to a 3-1 victory over the United States in the 1991 final.

Noah then led France to another triumph in 1996, defeating Sweden 3-2 in the final, before adding a third Davis Cup crown to his collection by captaining the 2017 side that overcame Belgium.

He also led France’s BJK Cup squad – when the competition was still named the Fed Cup – to glory in 1997, the nation claiming a first win in the women’s event with a 4-1 triumph over the Netherlands.

Engaging character

After initially attracting huge waves of attention when launched in 2017, the Laver Cup has flagged slightly in recent years.

The event has struggled to consistently attract the biggest names in tennis – perhaps not helped by Federer’s retirement – and last year’s lopsided final, won 13-2 by Team World, didn’t help perceptions of the competition.

From the perspective of attracting attention, and higher-profile participants, Noah is a perfect pick.

He was a huge showman during his career and has remained a hugely engaging figure in the three decades since his retirement.

A universally beloved figure in tennis, Noah knows how to win over a crowd – and he will certainly be a fun figure for Team Europe players to be around.

Expect him to bring more energy to the Laver Cup when he makes his debut in San Francisco.

Read More: Rafael Nadal will not retire at the Laver Cup – but he may have another date in mind

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