France win doubles, go 2-1 up in Davis Cup final
France moved one step closer to a 10th Davis Cup title when Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat Ruben Bemelmans and Joris De Loore 6-1 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4 to give the hosts a 2-1 lead in the final against neighbours Belgium on Saturday (November 25).
The French pair, in their first competitive match together, were down a break in the third set when Bemelmans suffered a meltdown, allowing Les Bleus to turn the situation around.
David Goffin put the visitors ahead by beating Lucas Pouille in the opening singles before Jo-Wilfried Tsonga levelled for 1-1 when he defeated Steve Darcis in the second singles on Friday (November 24).
Tsonga and Goffin face off in the first reverse singles on Sunday (November 26) while Pouille and Darcis are set to play a decisive fifth match, if needed.
France captain Yannick Noah had surprisingly dropped doubles specialists Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut, Herbert’s preferred partner, to include Gasquet in the team on Thursday and while risky, his choice did not backfire.
Gasquet and Herbert, however, owe a big part of their victory to Bemelmans’s inability to handle the pressure in front of a wild 28,500 crowd at the Pierre Mauroy stadium.