Gasquet and Tsonga put France on brink of Davis Cup final

Richard Gasquet's dominant, showstopping win over Tomas Berdych was followed by Jo-Wilfried's clinical beatdown of Lukas Rosol on Friday to put France 2-0 up over the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup semi-finals.

France's Richard Gasquet celebrates during his victory over Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych in their opening match of the Davis Cup semi-finals on Friday. Patrick Kovarik / AFP / September 12, 2014
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Wins for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet put France on the cusp of a first Davis Cup final since 2010 after Friday’s opening rubbers in the semi-final against defending champions the Czech Republic.

Playing at the French Open base of Roland Garros in Paris, French number one Tsonga coasted to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win over Lukas Rosol following Gasquet’s upset 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory over top Czech player Tomas Berdych.

A win in Saturday’s doubles will be enough to ensure that the French reach the final where they would play either Switzerland or Italy, who are contesting the other semi-final in Geneva.

“I am very proud of the way they played today,” French captain Arnaud Clement said of his players.

“For Richard it was perhaps the best match he has played in the Davis Cup and he chose right moment to do it.

“Bravo to both of them and we are well-placed this evening, but we still have a long way to go.”

Tsonga won five games in a row from 2-2 in the first set to pull clear of Rosol, who was chosen ahead of veteran campaigner Radek Stepanek.

He stayed in total control of the match in the second set despite some big-hitting from Rosol and, when he broke again in the fourth game of the third set, there was no way back for the outgunned Czech.

“All merit goes to Richard who gave me the perfect platform. He played an extraordinary match and that helped me to win mine.

“But they won’t give in as easy as that so we have to stay focussed and play a great match.”

The Czechs are seeking a third straight Davis Cup title, while France are aiming for a first win in the annual team competition since 2001.

Gasquet, who was chosen ahead of recent US Open semi-finalist Gael Monfils, took control early on against Berdych in front of a packed Philippe Chatrier centre-court and he pocketed the first set 6-3 with a superb backhand drive down the line.

And it was the power of the Gasquet backhand again that led to the world number six Czech dropping serve twice in a row at the start of the second set.

The Czech team spearhead claimed one of those breaks back to get to 3-1 but Gasquet held firm and broke again to take the set 6-2.

Berdych held serve to open the third set but he was broken to love two games later as an on-fire Gasquet continued to dominate on the claycourt.

Gasquet had two match points in the ninth game and a double-fault from Berdych on the second of those gave the French a crucial opening point.

“I had a lot of pressure, but the crowd was unbelievable,” said Gasquet.

“I didn’t shut it out, I tried to hear it. The atmosphere is incredible. Court Philippe Chatrier is built for the Davis Cup.”

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