Belgium​ ​and​ France​ ​through to​ ​Davis​ ​Cup​ ​final

France will host Belgium in the Davis Cup final after making it past Serbia and Australia respectively, but it wasn’t always straight forward, as Suzanne Oliphant reports. 

Tennis – Davis Cup – Semi-Final – France vs Serbia- Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille, France – September 16, 2017 France’s Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert shake hands with Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic And Nenad Zimonjic after winning their doubles match REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

The​ ​world​ ​cup​ ​of​ ​tennis​ ​was​ ​back​ ​this​ ​weekend​ ​as​ ​The​ ​Davis​ ​Cup​ ​semi-finals​ ​took​ ​to​ ​the​ ​clay​ ​courts​ ​in​ ​France​ ​and​ ​Belgium. The​ ​event​ ​saw​ ​France,​ ​Serbia,​ ​Belgium​ ​and​ ​Australia​ ​fight​ ​for​ ​a​ ​place​ ​in​ ​the​ ​final.​ ​After​ ​three​ ​days​ ​and​ ​nine​ ​matches​ ​it​ ​was France​ ​and​ ​Belgium​ ​who​ ​came​ ​out​ ​on​ ​top.

With ​Djokovic​ ​absent​ ​from​ ​the​ ​team,​ ​Serbia’s​ ​first​ ​seed ​Dusan​ ​Lajovic​ ​defeated​ ​France’s​ ​Lucas​ ​Pouille​ ​in​ ​a​ ​tie​ ​break with​ ​the​ ​rubber​ ​ending​ ​6-1,​ ​3-6,​ ​7-6​ ​(9-7),​ ​7-6​ ​(7-5)​ ​awarding​ ​Serbia​ ​with​ ​their​ ​first​ ​point.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​up​ ​to​ ​France’s​ ​first​ ​seed​ ​and world​ ​No.18​ ​Jo-Wilfried​ ​Tsonga​ ​to​ ​equalise.​ ​Tsonga​ ​put​ ​away​ ​Serbia’s​ ​young​ ​debutant​ ​Laslo​ ​Djere​ ​in​ ​straight​ ​sets​ ​bringing​ ​the opening​ ​day’s​ ​result​ ​to​ ​1-1.

Belgium​ ​and​ ​Australia​ ​also​ ​won​ ​one​ ​rubber​ ​each​ ​on​ ​Friday.​ ​Belgium’s​ ​first​ ​seed​ ​and​ ​world​ ​No.12​ ​David​ ​Goffin​ ​defeated​ ​Aussie John​ ​Millman​ ​in​ ​the​ ​first​ ​rubber​ ​ending​ ​in​ ​6-7​ ​(7-4),​ ​6-4,​ ​6-3,​ ​7-5.  While​ ​in​ ​the​ ​second​ ​rubber​ ​Australia​ ​equalised​ ​through​ ​Nick​ ​Kyrgios​ ​defeating​ ​Steve​ ​Darcis​ ​6-3,​ ​3-6,​ ​6-7​ ​(7-5),​ ​6-1,​ ​6-2

Saturday’s​ ​doubles​ ​gave​ ​a​ ​clearer​ ​picture​ ​of​ ​which​ ​teams​ ​would​ ​reach​ ​the​ ​final.​ ​France​ had ​the​ ​advantage​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of Saturday’s​ ​rubber​ ​as​ ​Pierre-Hugues​ ​Herbert​ ​and​ ​Nicolas​ ​Mahut​ ​won​ ​comfortably​ ​against​ ​Serbia’s​ ​Filip​ ​Krajinovic​ ​and​ ​Nenad Zimonjic​ ​6-1,​ ​6-2,​ ​7-6​ ​(7-3).  Australia​ ​were​ ​also​ ​given​ ​an​ ​important​ ​2-1​ ​advantage​ ​over​ ​Belgium​ ​after​ ​the​ ​doubles​ ​on​ ​Saturday​ ​as​ ​John​ ​Peers​ ​and​ ​Jordan Thompson​ ​served​ ​up​ ​a​ ​comfortable​ ​win​ ​in​ ​straight​ ​sets​ ​over​ ​Rubens​ ​Bemelmans​ ​and​ ​Arthur​ ​de​ ​Greef.  

The​ ​final​ ​day​ ​in​ ​a​ ​weekend​ ​of​ ​fierce​ ​competition​ ​was​ ​expected​ ​to​ ​end​ ​in​ ​France​ ​and​ ​Australia​ ​reaching​ ​the​ ​final, as​ ​France​ ​and Australia​ ​only​ ​needed​ ​to​ ​win​ ​one​ ​rubber​ ​each​ ​which​ ​seemed​ ​likely​ ​unless​ ​Serbia​ ​and​ ​Belgium​ ​made​ ​an​ ​all​ ​important​ ​come​ ​back.  One​ ​last​ ​game​ ​was​ ​all​ ​that​ ​France​ ​needed​ ​as​ ​despite​ ​losing​ ​the​ ​first​ ​set​ ​6-2, Tsonga​ ​went​ ​on​ ​to​ ​book​ ​France’s​ ​place​ ​in​ ​the​ ​final winning​ ​the​ ​following​ ​four​ ​sets​ ​6-2,​ ​7-6​ ​(7-5),​ ​6-2​ ​against​ ​Dusan​ ​Lajovic.  

Meanwhile​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Palais​ ​12​ ​in​ ​Brussels,​ ​Australia​ ​failed​ ​to​ ​seal​ ​the​ ​deal​ ​after​ ​the​ ​first​ ​match​ ​as​ ​Belgium​ ​came​ ​back​ ​fighting​ ​in order​ ​to​ ​win​ ​the​ ​remaining​ ​two​ ​points.​ ​The​ ​Aussies​ ​couldn’t​ ​hold​ ​onto​ ​their​ ​2-1​ ​lead​ ​in​ ​the​ ​reverse​ ​singles​ ​as​ ​Kyrgios​ ​was​ ​met​ ​by a​ ​determined​ ​Goffin​ ​who​ ​fought​ ​back​ ​in​ ​a​ ​tight​ ​four​ ​sets​ ​bringing​ ​Belgium​ ​level​ ​with​ ​Australia​ ​again.  

The​ ​deciding​ ​rubber​ ​would​ ​be​ ​played​ ​by​ ​Davis​ ​Cup​ ​veteran​ ​Steve​ ​Darcis,​ ​who​ ​is​ ​often​ ​dubbed​ ​“Mr​ ​Davis​ ​Cup”,​ ​​ ​and​ ​Jordan Thompson​ ​who​ ​is​ ​ten​ ​years​ ​Darcis’​ ​junior.​ ​Australia’s​ ​captain​ ​Lleyton​ ​Hewitt​ ​surprised​ ​many​ ​by​ ​choosing​ ​to​ ​play​ ​Thompson​ ​who played​ ​in​ ​the​ ​doubles​ ​tie​ ​the​ ​previous​ ​day​ ​over​ ​John​ ​Millman​ ​who​ ​had​ ​played​ ​the​ ​singles​ ​tie​ ​against​ ​Goffin​ ​on​ ​Friday.​ ​This decision​ ​is​ ​what​ ​cost​ ​Australia​ ​their​ ​place​ ​in​ ​the​ ​final​ ​as​ ​Darcis​ ​sealed​ ​comfortably​ ​won​ ​the​ ​rubber​ ​in​ ​straight​ ​sets​ ​sending Belgium​ ​to​ ​the​ ​final​ ​denying​ ​Australia​ ​the​ ​chance​ ​to​ ​go​ ​to​ ​their​ ​first​ ​final​ ​since​ ​winning​ ​the​ ​cup​ ​in​ ​2003.  

Nine​ ​time​ ​champions​ ​France​ ​will​ ​host​ ​2015​ ​runners-up​ ​Belgium​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Davis​ ​Cup​ ​final​ ​on​ ​24-26​ ​November.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​decided​ ​on Tuesday​ ​that​ ​the​ ​final​ ​will​ ​be​ ​held​ ​in​ ​Stade​ ​Pierre​ ​Mauroy​ ​in​ ​Lille​, with France ​choosing​ ​to​ ​play​ ​on​ ​a​ ​hard​ ​court​ ​under​ ​a​ ​closed​ ​roof. With​ ​a​ ​capacity​ ​of​ ​27,000,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​expected​ ​to​ ​draw​ ​in​ ​many​ ​tennis​ ​enthusiasts​ ​as​ ​France​ ​and​ ​Belgium​ ​battle​ ​it​ ​out​ ​to​ ​be​ ​Davis​ ​Cup champions.​ ​Hosts​ ​France​ ​are​ ​the​ ​favourites​ ​to​ ​win​ ​in​ ​November.

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