Gasquet and Herbert give France Davis Cup final lead

France's Richard Gasquet in action at the Davis Cup final against Belgium in Lille. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
France's Richard Gasquet in action at the Davis Cup final against Belgium in Lille. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat Ruben Bemelmans and Joris De Loore 6-1, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 yesterday to give France a 2-1 lead over Belgium in the Davis Cup final.

Gasquet and Herbert – who had never played together before and were surprise choices ahead of Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut – put France one win away from a tenth Davis Cup title. Belgium, in the final for the second time in three years, are seeking their first title.

In today’s first reverse singles in the northern city of Lille, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga can clinch the final for France with victory over Belgium’s top player David Goffin. If Tsonga fails, the tie will be decided in the final reverse singles between Frenchman Lucas Pouille and Steve Darcis.

Despite their lack of practice and matches together, Gasquet and Herbert got off to a flying start on the indoor hard court in front of 28,500 spectators at the Pierre Mauroy stadium and raced into a 5-0 lead. The Belgians saved two set points to finally hold their serve, but the respite was short lived as Gasquet served out the set in the next game.

A poor service game from Herbert gave the Belgians momentum right at the start of the second set, which Bemelmans eventually served out to level things.

Bemelmans and De Loore celebrated with a chest bump but the celebrations were short-lived. Their opponents won a tense third set on a tiebreaker (7-2), before edging the fourth set.

The decisive moment in that final set came when Gasquet and Herbert managed to break for a 4-3 lead following a big mistake from Bemelmans, who buried a smash into the bottom of the net.