Aus­tralia, France near Davis Cup fi­nal

Arab News - - SPORTS -

PARIS: Aus­tralia edged closer to a first Davis Cup fi­nal in 14 years on Saturday when Jor­dan Thomp­son and John Peers swept past Arthur De Greef and Ruben Bemel­mans 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 for a 2-1 lead in their semi­fi­nal in Brus­sels.

Aus­tralia, the 28-time cham­pi­ons, look likely to face nine-time win­ners France who are 2-1 up on Ser­bia in Lille thanks to Ni­co­las Mahut and Pier­reHugues Herbert clinch­ing a 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) win over Ne­nad Zi­mon­jic and Filip Kra­ji­novic.

Lley­ton He­witt’s Aus­tralia last won the Davis Cup in 2003 when they beat Spain in the fi­nal.

“We had a job to do to­day and we came out and did it from start to fin­ish. Play­ing with Thommo and in front of this crowd and per­form the way we did is just in­cred­i­ble,” said Peers.

Nick Kyr­gios can wrap up the tie for Aus­tralia on Sun­day when he takes on fel­low na­tional No. 1 David Gof­fin in the first of the re­verse sin­gles.

Kyr­gios de­feated Steve Dar­cis 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2 on Friday while Gof­fin saw off John Mill­man 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

In Lille, Mahut and Herbert needed less than two hours to see off Ser­bia’s 41-year-old play­ing cap­tain Zi­mon­jic and Kra­ji­novic.

That Yan­nick Noah’s hosts have yet to book their place in the fi­nal is down to Du­san La­jovic’s shock 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/5) win in Friday's open­ing rub­ber against Lu­cas Pouille, al­though Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga had lev­elled the tie by beat­ing debu­tant Laslo Djere 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 6-3.

Mahut and Herbert, the 2015 US Open and 2016 Wim­ble­don cham­pi­ons, came back from 5-2 down in the third set to wrap up the win.

France are bid­ding for a first Davis Cup ti­tle since 2001, hav­ing lost three fi­nals since with the most re­cent a de­feat by Roger Fed­erer’s Switzer­land in 2014. Brazil player fined $1,500 for ‘racist’ ges­ture

Brazil­ian player Guil­herme Clezar was fined $1,500 by the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion (ITF) on Saturday for mak­ing what ap­peared to be a slit-eyed ges­ture in a Davis Cup tie in Ja­pan.

The 24-year-old had ear­lier is­sued an apol­ogy but de­nied any racist in­tent fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent dur­ing his de­feat by Yuichi Sugita on Friday in Brazil’s world group play­off against the hosts in Osaka.

Af­ter suc­cess­fully chal­leng­ing a line call in the third-set tiebreak, an ex­as­per­ated Clezar stretched his eyes in an ap­par­ent crit­i­cism of the line judge who made the ball call.

The ges­ture was caught on lo­cal tele­vi­sion and the ITF has sub­se­quently de­cided to hand down the fine for “un­sports­man­like con­duct” af­ter the footage was re­viewed by the tie ref­eree.

The player in­sisted he had not meant to in­sult Ja­panese peo­ple in a post on the Brazil­ian ten­nis fed­er­a­tion’s Face­book page.

“I want to un­der­line that I never had the slight­est in­ten­tion to be ag­gres­sive, racist, prej­u­diced or any­thing of the type against Asian peo­ple,” said Clezar, who lost the open­ing rub­ber 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 be­fore Brazil fell 2-0 down in the tie.

“We have been ex­tremely well re­ceived here and I have an ex­cel­lent re­la­tion­ship with all ten­nis play­ers from many dif­fer­ent coun­tries on the cir­cuit,” he added.

“Even though I didn’t mean any prej­u­dice, I recog­nise the ges­ture doesn’t ring true with the at­ti­tudes of re­spect, en­thu­si­asm, sol­i­dar­ity, emo­tion and many other things that sport means to us and I want to ex­press my re­gret and my most sin­cere apolo­gies.”

Clezar, who also is­sued an apol­ogy from his In­sta­gram ac­count, is ranked 244th in the world and mainly com­petes on the Chal­lenger tour.

Ja­pan took a stran­gle­hold on the Osaka tie af­ter Go Soeda fol­lowed Sugita's win over Clezar by squeez­ing past Thi­ago Mon­teiro with a nervy 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 vic­tory.

Aus­tralia’s cap­tain Lley­ton He­witt, cen­ter, and play­ers Jor­dan Thomp­son, right, and John Peers cel­e­brate af­ter win­ning the Davis Cup semi fi­nal be­tween Bel­gium and Aus­tralia in Brus­sels on Saturday. (AFP)

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