France pushes Davis Cup hopes to the fi­nal day

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Sports - From Mi­ami Herald Wire Ser­vices

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.

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