TENNIS • DEFENDING CHAMPION FRANCE BACK IN DAVIS CUP FINAL • UNITED STATES EXTENDS TIE VS. CROATIA

Written by: on 15th September 2018
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Davis Cup - France vs Spain
TENNIS • DEFENDING CHAMPION FRANCE BACK IN DAVIS CUP FINAL • UNITED STATES EXTENDS TIE VS. CROATIA

epa07022475 Julien Benneteau (L) and Nicolas Mahut (R) of France celebrates their win following their double match against Marcel Granollers and Feliciano Lopez of Spain for the Davis Cup Semi Final between France and Spain at the Pierre Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, near Lille, France, 15 September 2018. France wins 3-0. EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT  |
Julien Benneteau (L) and Nicolas Mahut (R) of France celebrates their win following their double match against Marcel Granollers and Feliciano Lopez of Spain for the Davis Cup Semi Final between France and Spain at the Pierre Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, near Lille, France, 15 September 2018. France wins 3-0.  EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

France, which won the Davis Cup in 2017, is back in the final after blanking Spain 3-0 this weekend on the indoor hard courts of Lille. The French side finished off visiting Spain when Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut picked up a 6-0, 6-4, 7-6(7) victory over Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers.

 

Captain Yannick Noah’s squad preceded Saturday’s doubles success with singles victories by Benoit Paire (in straight sets at the expense of Pablo Carreno Busta) and Lucas Pouille (in five sets over Roberto Bautista Agut).

 

“It’s quite possible it could be the last match of my career on tour,” said Benneteau, who announced his retirement following the U.S. Open but then got a late Davis Cup call. “And what a way to finish.”

 

“This is the best tennis I’ve seen from my team in three years,” Noah noted. “I didn’t have a beer for a week; I deserve my beer!”

 

The beer is still on ice for Croatia, as its lead dwindled from 2-0 to 2-1 against the visiting United States. Team USA fended off elimination by winning a five-set doubles rubber, as Mike Bryan teamed up with Ryan Harrison to hold off Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic 7-5, 7-6(6), 1-6, 6-7(5), 7-6(5) after four hours and 41 minutes of competition.

 

“I think that just coming through that environment is very exciting,” Harrison commented. “I’m really grateful I had the opportunity. Mike’s been really great all week about helping me out with just so many years of great doubles experience, helping me on where to be and what to do. (It) made my job easy.”

 

“They played a great third,” Bryan said of the Croats. “The fourth could have gone either way. So we feel fortunate to get out of there with a victory…7-6 in the fifth, I’ve never played a match like that. I’ve never played as long of a match like that. It was just a dog-fight; could have gone either way. Luckily I had a great partner in Harry. He stepped up there

at the end, and he played great.”

 

“We’ll find out tomorrow,” U.S. captain Jim Courier said of the doubles win’s potential impact on the rest of the tie. “Certainly there’s been some momentum built today and we’ll see if we can use that momentum and kind of use it as a bit of a boomerang for us after the 0-2 start, and kind of capture that momentum and just sling-shot our way into the finish line.”

 

Marin Cilic and Steve Johnson are scheduled to meet in the fourth singles rubber on Sunday, while a decisive fifth showdown would likely feature Borna Coric and Frances Tiafoe.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

 

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