France reach Davis Cup final after Serbia victory

France have reached the Davis Cup final after reaching an unassailable 3-1 lead over Serbia. 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga clinched a semifinal victory against Serbia by defeating Dusan Lajovic 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Sunday.

The French will face either Belgium or Australia in the final. The teams were tied 2-2 in Brussels after David Goffin rallied past Nick Kyrgios 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga secured France’s place in their first Davis Cup final since 2014

The Frenchman defeated Serbia's Dusan Lajovic 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-2 to conclude the tie

The Frenchman defeated Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-2 to conclude the tie

France Davis Cup

First year: 1904 

Wins: 9

Years played: 98

Ties played: 253

Years in world group: 35 

Goffin, who had not beaten Kyrgios in three previous matches, returned well and played astute tennis to counter his opponent’s big shots on the indoor clay of the Palais 12, extending his excellent Davis Cup record to 15 wins from 16 singles matches.

Goffin dropped his serve only once and fell onto his back after hitting two aces in succession to serve out the match after a three-hour battle.

Belgium’s Steve Darcis was set to take on John Millman in the decisive rubber but Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt changed his lineup and gave Jordan Thompson the nod instead.

France avenged its defeat by Serbia in the 2010 final and qualified for its first final since losing to Switzerland in the title match three years ago. The French will play at home from Nov. 24-26 if Belgium wins, or travel to Australia, who were the victims in the last of France’s nine titles in 2001.

‘I’m relieved and happy,’ said France captain Yannick Noah. ‘To win the Davis Cup is something extraordinary. Hopefully I will be able to win it with these lads.’

Noah already captained France to the 1991 and 1996 Davis Cup titles and also won the French Open in 1983 as a player. 

The French did a lap of honor after Tsonga won the decisive point against a depleted Serbian team that gave the hosts a tough challenge.

Tsonga won his second point for France after defeating 22-year-old debutant Laslo Djere in straight sets on Friday to level the tie at 1-1. Two-time Grand Slam champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert then gave the hosts a 2-1 lead when they beat Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic in the doubles match.

Tsonga, who had decided to skip the Davis Cup this year, changed his mind and has made a successful return to the French team this term.

The French team now await either Belgium or Australia, who are tied 2-2 with one to play

The French team now await either Belgium or Australia, who are tied 2-2 with one to play

He was overpowered by his rival in the first set but improved and recovered in the second by upping his game when it mattered, after a double fault from Lajovic gave him an early break.

The third set was close with neither player giving in on the red clay of the Pierre Mauroy stadium but Lajovic was the first to crack despite saving two set points in the tiebreaker when he dumped a backhand return into the net.

Tsonga failed to convert three break points in the opening game of the fourth set but converted the fourth after Lajovic made two consecutive unforced errors – a double fault and a forehand in the net. 

The Frenchman then held the following service game to love and broke again as Lajovic showed signs of fatigue following his five-set win over Lucas Pouille on Friday. Tsonga then served out the match.