Win by Tsonga and in doubles put France once point away from Davis Cup title

France is one win away from its 10th Davis Cup title and first in 16 years. The host nation once trailed Belgium 1-0 in this week’s final in Lille, but a victory by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second singles rubber followed by Saturday’s double success has France in control.

After a red-hot David Goffin put the Belgians on the scoreboard by erasing Lucas Pouille, Tsonga evened things up with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 beatdown of Steve Darcis. That set the stage for a crucial doubles showdown, for which there was some controversy on the French side going into it. Captain Yannick Noah broke up the established pairing of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, instead leaving Mahut completely off the roster so that a third singles player–Richard Gasquet–could join Tsonga and Pouille. Gasquet, a potential replacement for Pouille if Sunday’s fifth rubber is live (due to Pouille’s underwhelming performance against Goffin), teamed up with Herbert on Saturday to face the Belgian duo of Ruben Bemelmans and Joris De Loore.

Noah’s decision cannot necessarily be christened a great one because Mahut and Herbert would have been massive favorites, but it won’t go down in Davis Cup infamy. Gasquet and Herbert made sure of that by taking care of business and holding off Bemelmans and De Loore 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 after three hours and three minutes.

“You’re always worried because even though I think it’s the right choice, even if I’ve been playing for so many years and being captain for so many years, there are so many people here that are just waiting to cut my head, whatever I’m doing,” Noah explained. “You can’t help but be a little bit worried about what happens if they lose. They saved me.”

“We didn’t know what to expect, but we stayed together from the beginning to the end,” Herbert assessed. “We got the win and we’re so happy.”

Belgium, on the other hand, has its back against the wall. The visitors do, however, have the benefit of a confident Goffin contesting the fourth rubber on Sunday. Ranked seventh in the world, Goffin is coming off a runner-up showing at the ATP Finals–where he defeated both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Tsonga, meanwhile, contended for a London spot by winning the Antwerp title and finishing runner-up in Vienna before falling short with an early loss in Paris.

“It will be tough,” Belgian captain Johan Van Herck admitted. “But we have two players who know how to play on a Sunday. We have the experience and I think David has the game to beat Jo. It will be a very high level match. One that is worthy of a Davis Cup Final.”

2 Comments on Win by Tsonga and in doubles put France once point away from Davis Cup title

    • I am rooting for Belgium but i don’t think they will win.

      D. Goffin might win, I think he will but can Steve Darcie win?
      It’s possible but unlikely.

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