Goffin on brink of forcing Davis Cup decider

 26 Nov 2017 - 18:15

Goffin on brink of forcing Davis Cup decider
France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga during his match against Belgium's David Goffin REUTERS/Yves Herman


Lille, France: The Davis Cup final between France and Belgium was heading towards a decisive fifth rubber with Belgian singles ace David Goffin sweeping the first two sets of his singles showdown with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Lille.

Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert put France, seeking their first title since 2001, in pole position after a gruelling four-set doubles victory in front of a passionate French crowd at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Saturday.

France captain Yannick Noah's gamble in pairing Gasquet and Herbert together for the first time paid off as they brushed past Ruben Bemelmans and Joris de Loore 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 to leave the hosts requiring just one point from Sunday's closing two singles.

It left Belgium's hopes of claiming a first title in the venerable competition resting with their in-form number one Goffin denying Tsonga in Sunday's opening singles.

Goffin, who outclassed Lucas Pouille in Friday's opening rubber, saved a set point while serving at 5-6, as Tsonga was left to rue his inability to capitalise on any of his six break points. 

World number seven Goffin, the runner-up to Grigor Dimitrov at the season-ending ATP Finals in London last weekend, snatched a 75-minute opening set with a blistering backhand return in the tie-break.

Tsonga, who brought France level in Friday's second singles with a crushing win over Steve Darcis, then surrendered his serve in the second set with a costly double fault as Goffin surged 4-2 ahead before seizing a two-set lead.

If Goffin keeps the tie alive it will then go down to the fifth and closing rubber between Lucas Pouille or Gasquet and Belgium's Davis Cup specialist Steve Darcis.

Belgium's captain Johan Van Herck had predicted a closing-day comeback.

"We've shown that we know how to fight as a team. We've got two great cards to play tomorrow," he said on Saturday.

Belgium are appearing in their second Davis Cup final in three years -- but just the third time overall -- after losing to Andy Murray's Great Britain in Ghent in 2015.

France have reached four finals since they last lifted the trophy, with Tsonga and Gasquet both part of the team beaten by a Switzerland featuring Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka in the 2014 showpiece.