Bel­gium-Aus­tralia, France-Ser­bia Tied at One

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LILLE (Dis­patches) - France and Ser­bia are level at 1-1 in their Davis Cup semi­fi­nal af­ter Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga dis­patched 22-year-old debu­tant Laslo Djere in straight sets on Fri­day fol­low­ing Lu­cas Pouille’s shock de­feat in the open­ing sin­gles match.

Bel­gium and Aus­tralia are also tied 1-1 af­ter the open­ing rub­bers in Brus­sels.

Nick Kyr­gios bat­tled to down Steve Dar­cis 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2 de­spite a buoy­ant home crowd at the Palais 12 af­ter David Gof­fin pro­duced a hard-fought win against John Mill­man to earn the hosts an early lead.

Kyr­gios made 65 un­forced er­rors but also hit 20 aces to pre­vail as fa­tigue took hold of the 33-year-old Dar­cis in the last two sets.

“Lley­ton and I have put so much ded­i­ca­tion into this, the Davis Cup has been my No.1 pri­or­ity this year,” Kyr­gios said, re­fer­ring to Aus­tralia cap­tain Lley­ton He­witt.

Gof­fin won a tight base­line bat­tle that lasted 3 and 1/2 hours against Mill­man, tri­umph­ing 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to ex­tend his Davis Cup record to 14 wins from 15 matches.

In the ab­sence of No­vak Djokovic, Vik­tor Troicki and Janko Tip­sare­vic, the French were ex­pected to en­joy a calm weekend in the north­ern city of Lille. But Du­san La­jovic made the most of Pouille’s in­con­sis­tent dis­play to give Ser­bia a 1-0 lead on the red clay of the Pierre Mau­roy Sta­dium.

The 80th-ranked La­jovic made a strong start and cap­i­tal­ized on Pouille’s mis­takes to pre­vail 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5). The French­man never found the right tempo, made wrong tac­ti­cal choices, and hit a to­tal of 70 un­forced er­rors.

Play­ing with the French Davis Cup team for the first time this sea­son, Tsonga made a suc­cess­ful re­turn in the team com­pe­ti­tion and won 7-6 (2), 6-3, 6-3.

In the other semi­fi­nal in Brus­sels, David Gof­fin pro­duced a hard-fought win against Aus­tralian John Mill­man to earn the hosts an early lead. Gof­fin won a tight base­line bat­tle that lasted 3 and 1/2 hours against Mill­man, tri­umph­ing 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to ex­tend his Davis Cup record to 14 wins from 15 matches.

Aus­tralia, a 28-time cham­pion, is chas­ing a spot in the fi­nal for the first time since it won the ti­tle in 2003, while Bel­gium is try­ing to reach the fi­nal for only the third time.

In Lille, the 22nd-ranked Pouille dropped his serve im­me­di­ately and looked ner­vous through­out the first set wrapped up by La­jovic in 25 min­utes.

The Ser­bian took all the risks and re­duced Pouille to a spec­ta­tor’s role with deep ground­strokes and kicked serves that caught his op­po­nent out.

La­jovic had cramps in his right foot to­wards the end of the fourth set and needed some help from Ser­bia player and cap­tain Ne­nad Zi­mon­jic to put his shoe back on af­ter hit­ting an over­head win­ner for a 5-4 lead in the fourth-set tiebreaker.

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