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.
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.