BAIE-MAHAULT, Guadeloupe — It seems fantastic that four of the world’s best tennis players would descend upon a small Caribbean island more than 4,000 miles from home to take the first step toward their elusive Davis Cup.
But in an effort to leave no stone unturned and perhaps, on some level, to put an immediate stamp on his team, Yannick Noah, the new French captain, decided that Guadeloupe was the place.
Its first-round matchup against Canada is the first in France’s illustrious but tumultuous Davis Cup history to be played overseas. Administratively, Guadeloupe is a department of France — a faraway one, but nevertheless part of the country. Noah’s wish was to play outdoors on slow red clay, the better to stymie Milos Raonic, Canada’s best player.
As it turned out, Raonic did not make the trip,…