Davis Cup: France wins doubles, leads Serbia 2-1 in semis

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) to give France a 2-1 lead over Serbia 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.

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

The French had been 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.

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 rubbers had been played on outdoor clay but organizers decided to close the roof at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in the northern city of Lille because of forecasts of bad weather.

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

Belgium and Australia were level at 1-1 in the other semifinal ahead of the doubles match in Brussels.