French blank Czechs to enter final

first_imgRichard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fired France into the Davis Cup final for the first time since 2010 when they gave the hosts a 3-0 lead against holders Czech Republic on Saturday.After dropping the first set, the French duo beat Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-1 to earn victory with a day to spare at Roland Garros.Gasquet gave them the first point on Friday by crushing Berdych before Tsonga doubled the tally also with a straight-set victory over Lukas Rosol.Captain Arnaud Clement made a switch, electing to pair Tsonga and Gasquet rather than Gael Monfils and Julien Benneteau, and it worked a treat.Berdych, who looked well below par on Friday, was not much better in the doubles and was the weak spot in the Czech pair.Gasquet, on the other hand, led the French duo with aplomb and it was his brilliant dipping backhand return that gave Les Bleus the early break in the first set.Stepanek managed the net perfectly in the seventh game to help the Czechs break back and the Czechs saved two break points in the following game to level at 4-4.In the tie-break, Gasquet’s stunning crosscourt backhand winner put Les Bleus 4-2 up, only for the Czechs to win five points in a row and bag the opening set.The French saved break points in the second and fourth games of the second set, but needed only one opportunity to steal their opponent’s serve in the fifth game when Tsonga flicked a backhand winner.advertisementJust before Tsonga served for the second set, Stepanek left the court to receive medical treatment but the hosts were clearly unfazed as the world number 12 wrapped it up with an ace.A Berdych double fault handed France a break in the first game of the third set and the hosts were 3-0 up after another break, but a brilliant Berdych forehand winner down the line helped the Czechs pull one back.In another momentum shift, France went from 4-2 up with a break point for 5-2 to 5-4 down despite Stepanek receiving treatment on his right hip. However, they won the tie-break 7-5 after recovering from a 4-2 deficit and it proved too high a mountain to climb for the Czechs whose hopes of a third consecutive title evaporated in a one-sided fourth set.Italians stay aliveDoubles duo Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini took advantage of the absence of Swiss star Roger Federer to keep Italy’s semi-final hopes alive on Saturday. Bolelli and Fognini both lost their singles ties on Friday to Federer and Stan Wawrinka respectively, but came through 7-5, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 against Swiss pairing Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli to ensure that the tie will be decided on Sunday in Geneva.last_img

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