Davis Cup: Australia and France lead 2-1 in semifinals

Filip Krajinovic, left, and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia return the ball to Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut of France during their double Davis Cup semi final match at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Lille, northern France, Saturday, Sept.16, 2017. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

LILLE, France (AP) Two-time Grand Slam champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (3) for France to lead Serbia 2-1 in the Davis Cup semifinals on Saturday.

Apart from a scare in the third set when the Serb pair won four games in a row, Mahut and Herbert were in control on the indoor clay court and put France one win away from its 18th Davis Cup final.

In the other semifinal in Brussels, Australia also needs just one more point to reach the final for the first time since it won the title in 2003 after John Peers and Jordan Thompson breezed past Arthur de Greef and Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.

”It was surprising. Davis Cup doubles you usually see marathon five-setters,” Thompson said.

A highly anticipared contest between Belgium’s David Goffin and Nick Kyrgios could become the climax of Sunday’s reverse singles in the Belgian capital.

In the northern city of Lille, the French were flawless on their service games until 5-2 in the third set when Herbert was broken after he hit a double fault. The Serbian duo broke again following two beautiful winners from Krajinovic – a perfect lob and passing shot – but the French proved stronger in the tiebreaker.

”We are super happy and very proud,” said Herbert, who won Wimbledon and the U.S Open with Mahut. ”It’s never easy to serve for the match, I felt weaker at the worst time.”

Mahut, who has been hampered by a calf injury in recent weeks, thanked the medical staff for enabling him to play.

”They did not count their hours to put me back on my feet,” he said. ”This victory is also theirs.”

Friday’s singles were played outdoors but organizers decided to close the roof at Pierre Mauroy Stadium because of forecasts of bad weather.

In the absence of Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki, and Janko Tipsarevic, Serbia was given little chance against the French, but Dusan Lajovic gave Serbia a 1-0 lead on Friday before Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won the second singles.

In Sunday’s first reverse singles, Tsonga can clinch the tie for France with victory over Lajovic. If he fails, the tie will be decided in the final singles between Lucas Pouille and Serb debutant Laslo Djere.