Tsonga Levels Davis Cup Final at 1-1
FRANCE 1, BELGIUM 1
Lille, France (Hard Indoor)
France needed its top-ranked player to come through in the Davis Cup final on Friday, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga certainly did just that. With his country trailing Belgium 0-1, Tsonga upended ATP World Tour veteran Steve Darcis 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 in Lille, France to end the first day of play at Stade Pierre Mauroy.
Tsonga, who made a late push in the Emirates ATP Race To London by winning the European Open and reaching the final at the Erste Bank Open 500, beat Darcis in their first meeting in 15 years, which came on the ITF Pro Circuit.
It was an important victory for France, which would have faced a daunting 0-2 deficit if Darcis managed to find the magic that helped him send Belgium to the Davis Cup final with a fifth-rubber victory against Australia's Jordan Thompson in the event's semi-finals.
David Goffin, who advanced to the championship match at last week's Nitto ATP Finals, continued his run of good form to give Belgium the lead, defeating Lucas Pouille 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 in the tie's opening match. The 2015 finalists are now up 1-0, and within two points of clinching Belgium's first Davis Cup title.
The top-ranked Belgian, who is up to a career-high No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, had trailed Pouille 0-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but all of those losses came last year. The 26-year-old was even with Pouille at 5-5 in the first set, but Goffin took over from there. He is now 5-0 this season in Davis Cup singles action.
The French squad, under captain Yannick Noah, is attempting to claim a 10th title at the event. France is in the final for the first time since 2014, and last captured the title in 2001 against Australia.