France and Australia take the advantage into final day of Davis Cup semis
Issued on: Modified:
France and Australia took a 2-1 lead on Satuday in their Davis Cup semi-finals against Serbia and Belgium respectively. In Villeneuve-d'Ascq in northern France, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut claimed the ascendance in the best of five series by beating Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic in straight sets.
In Brussels, John Peers and Jordan Thompson disposed of Ruben Bemelmans and Arthur de Greef also in straight sets.
The French duo emerged victorious 6-1 6-2 7-6 after one hour and 48 minutes. However the triumph could have been wrapped up earlier.
Herbert served for the tie at 5-2 in the third set but was broken after offering up two double faults. Krajinovic held to make it 5-4.
Mahut had a second chance for the French to win but he too was broken. Zimonjic gave the Serbs a 6-5 lead before Herbert held his nerve to take the third set into a tiebreak.
Until that double blip in the third set, the gulf between the pairs was obvious. Zimonjic, 41, had only played with his 25-year-old compatriot twice before. Mahut and Herbert have become one of the top pairings on the ATP circuit since linking up in 2015. They have won 10 titles including Grand Slams at the US Open in 2015 and Wimbledon in 2016. There have been three Masters crowns in 2017 in Rome, Montreal and Cincinnati.
The French duo bounced back from the disappointment of squandering a huge lead to take the tiebreak by seven points to three.
France will advance to the final for the first time since 2014 if Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - ranked 18th in the world - can overcome Dusan Lajovic who is more than 60 places beneath him in the ATP hierarchy.
At the Palais 12 in Brussels, Australia gained their lead emphatically. Peers and Thompson disposed of Bemelmans and de Greef 6-3 6-4 6-0.
Nick Kyrgios will seal the tie for the visitors and lead them into the final for the first time since 2003 if he beats the Belgian number one David Goffin on Sunday.
Ranked 20th and 12th respectively, Kyrgios and Goffin have met three times in the past 18 months on the ATP circuit. The Australian has won all the encounters but the three matches have been on hard courts. The latest showdown will be staged on an indoor clay court in Goffin's backyard.