France pushes Davis Cup hopes to the final day
Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert kept French hopes alive in the Davis Cup final with a 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3) win over Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic in the doubles on Saturday at Lille, France.
Croatia now leads France 2-1 as it chases its first Davis Cup title since 2005.
Croatia headed into the second day of the final needing only more point against defending champion France after its singles players Borna Coric and Marin Cilic outplayed Jeremy Chardy and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, respectively, in straight sets Friday and without conceding a service break on the opening day.
On the indoor clay court installed at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in northern France, the script changed dramatically during a pulsating doubles match.
Dodig and Pavic had only a few chances in the first two sets. Herbert played aggressively and Mahut raised his game on important points, hitting a service winner in the fourth game of the opening set to deny Croatia’s sole break chance in that set.
The Croatian pair gradually found its rhythm and made the most of Herbert’s sudden dip of level on serve to force a fourth set. Pavic saved three match points with consecutive big serves in the 10th game but the hosts played solid tennis in the tiebreaker to prevail.
Cilic is set to face Chardy, with Coric playing Tsonga, although captains can change their lineups.
Chasing an 11th title in the team event, France is back in the final but still faces a big challenge. The French singles players looked out of their depths on Friday, casting doubt on the chances of a comeback in Sunday’s reverse singles. No team has overturned a 2-0 deficit in a final since Australia beat the United States in 1939.
Soccer: Fulham beat
Southampton 3-2 to climb off the bottom of the standings with only its second victory of the season, and its first since Aug. 26. ... Maurizio Sarri experienced his first loss in English soccer as Chelsea was beaten at Tottenham 3-1, ending one of the three undefeated records in the Premier
League. ... Man City swept to a 4-0 victory at West Ham, with wingers Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling between them involved in all the goals at the Olympic Stadium. ... Firmino netted for the first time since Sept. 15 and Mohamed Salah scored his sixth goal in seven games in Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Watford. ... Manchester United’s struggles were put firmly into focus as Jose Mourinho’s team stuttered to a 0-0 home draw with Crystal Palace. ... Even without stars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain keeps on winning in the French league. PSG extended its winning streak to 14 matches after beating Toulouse 1-0. ... Bayern Munich’s troubled Bundesliga season went from bad to worse after a late collapse saw it draw 3-3 with Fortuna Duesseldorf, whose forward Dodi Lukebakio scored a hat trick. ... Ronaldo scored the opening goal and helped set up the second as Juventus extended its unbeaten start in Serie A by beating promoted Spal 2-0.
A Auto racing: Five-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton clinched pole position for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, his 11th pole of the season. The Mercedes driver’s 11th pole of the season and recordextending 83rd of his career looked in some doubt as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was quicker at the first time split. But Vettel went too wide on the last turn and qualified third behind Valtteri Bottas. For the second straight year, four-time F1 champion Vettel led during the championship — and was close behind Hamilton at the halfway stage. Vettel finished 46 points behind Hamilton last year and trails by 81 heading into Sunday’s race.
A MLB: The Seibu Lions will begin the posting process for left-handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi on Dec. 3 so that he can negotiate with teams in Major League Baseball. Kikuchi has a 73-46 career record with a 2.77 ERA in Nippon Professional Baseball.
Figure skating: World
A champion Nathan Chen won the last round of figure skating’s Grand Prix series at Grenoble, France, and secured a spot in next month’s final with a pulsating free skate at the Internationaux de France. ... On the women’s side, 16year-old Rika Kihira was a convincing winner, with a free skate packed with triple jumps and grace.
Skiing: Federica BrigA none won a giant slalom — three months after injuring her knee in a training accident — for her ninth career World Cup victory, with Mikaela Shiffrin taking fourth as the American competed before a home crowd in Killington, Vermont. ... Max Franz of Austria was the first racer on the course and his blistering time held up in the season-opening World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada.
Doubles partners Nicolas Mahut, right, and Pierre Hughes Herbert kept France alive with their victory Saturday.