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After a thrilling comeback victory, Belgium will face nine-time champions France in this year’s Davis Cup final.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the hero for France as he booked his sides place in this year’s Davis Cup final by helping them beat Serbia in Lille. The French number one was able to rally from a losing position to beat Dusan Lajovic 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-2, to claim his 20th singles victory in his Davis Cup career.
Underdogs Serbia threatened to cause an upset
Earlier in the contest, Lajovic had shocked Lucas Pouille to give underdogs Serbia, who were without Novak Djokovic, the lead in the opening tie. However, he could not repeat the upset to beat Tsonga, who had levelled the fixture earlier by beating Davis Cup debutant Laslo Djere.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut then beat Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic in the doubles, before Tsonga’s second victory. It was sweet revenge for Les Bleus, who were defeated by Serbia in the 2010 final.
Captained by Yannick Noah, the French squad will appear in its first final since 2014 and will look to end a sixteen-year title drought by claiming a tenth trophy. Their last victory came in 2001 when they beat Australia, followed by finishing as runners-up in 2002, 2010 and 2014.
France will now play Belgium over three days on 24-26 November.
Stalwarts for the Belgians, David Goffin and Steve Darcis were the heroes as the European nation rallied from a 1-2 deficit to defeat Australia on the final day.
Goffin, who had led Belgium to the 2015 Davis Cup final, overcame an early deficit to defeat Nick Kyrgios 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in Brussels. It was a terrific performance considering the Belgians had faced elimination following Saturday’s doubles win by John Peers and Jordan Thompson for the Australians.
Darcis then faced Thompson with the tie in the balance, but ran out a 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 winner to clinch Belgium’s second final appearance in three years. Darcis now has a record of 22-9 in singles play and also claimed decisive victories in two of Belgium’s three ties earlier this year, when defeating Alexander Zverev to oust Germany in the first round.
“It’s a big win for me and a big win for us”
Darcis said, “It’s a big win for me and a big win for us. David did an unbelievable job for us today. I have never seen him play as well as this and I’m really happy I could finish it off.”
The result meant that Belgium has now won three consecutive ties against Australia and will look to overcome a 4-3 head-to-head deficit against France in the final. The pair most recently met in the 2001 first round, which was won by the French side in a 5-0 whitewash.
Elsewhere, in another shock result, current Davis Cup holders Argentina were sensationally relegated from the world group following a 3-2 loss to Kazakhstan in Astana on Sunday.
Mikhail Kukushkin was able to beat US Open quarter-finalist Diego Schwartzman 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7-2) to give the home team an unassailable 3-1 lead. The defeat for Argentina meant they became only the third team in the competitions’ history to be relegated from the world group a year after winning the title. They will now have to play in the Group One Americas zone next year.
The 2016 winners were without Juan Martin del Potro and Federico Delbonis, who decided not to play in the competition this year having helped their country to win the title last year against Croatia.
Diego Schwartzman said, “We’ve got to let some time pass and think what each one of us could have done better… those of us who came here and those who didn’t.”