Paris: Australia edged closer to a first Davis Cup final in 14 years yesterday 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 semi-final against Belgium.
Australia, the 28-time champions, look likely to face nine-time winners France who are 2-1 up on Serbia thanks to Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert clinching a 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) win over Nenad Zimonjic and Filip Krajinovic.
“It was hard, they were very strong,” said De Greef, who is ranked 944 on the doubles circuit and who struggled both at the net and trying to return Peers’s service.
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 after yesterday’s win in Brussels.
Nick Kyrgios can wrap up the tie for Australia today when he takes on fellow national number one 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, France’s Mahut and Herbert needed less than two hours to see off Serbia’s 41-year-old playing captain Zimonjic and Krajinovic.
France were down after 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.
“Nico and Pierre-Hugues had a mini-test at the end. It was probably too easy and they wanted to give me an ulcer. But they did very well. They had a good match,” said Noah.
Herbert and Mahut lost only two points on serve in the first set and were barely troubled in a one-sided match held on indoor clay at Pierre Mauroy stadium.
“I will never forget it. I had never experienced so many emotions in my career,” Mahut said.
Tsonga is set to face Lajovic in a potentially decisive reverse singles today.