Gasquet left out of France Davis Cup team

By Chrystel Boulet-Euchin

LYON, France (Reuters) - Richard Gasquet was left out of the France team to face Argentina in their Davis Cup semi-final when captain Guy Forget Thursday picked Michael Llodra and Gael Monfils to lead the challenge.

Gilles Simon was named as a substitute. France have to cope without the injured Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Julien Benneteau.

Arnaud Clement, who has not been called up since 2008, will pair up with Llodra for Saturday's doubles against Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos.

"It was not an easy choice because all of them have been playing well," Forget told reporters.

"Michael has the game to bother (Juan) Monaco and Gael can beat anyone. And I feel that Gilles is ready. Richard does not have a good record against Nalbandian," he added, referring to Gasquet's 0-7 record against the Argentine.

The Argentine team was no surprise with Juan Monaco and David Nalbandian playing the singles.

The latter was confident he can beat Monfils Saturday despite his 1-2 record against the world number 15.

"These statistics won't last long," he told reporters.

Forget said Nalbandian, the world number 28, was a big threat.

The winner of the tie, to be played on a hard indoor surface, will face either Serbia or the Czech Republic in the final.

France have won the Davis Cup nine times, most recently in 2001 when they beat Australia in Melbourne, while Argentina, who reached the final twice in the last four years, have yet to win.

(Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Barry Moody)