Belgium-Australia, France-Serbia Tied at One
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.