Belgian David Goffin looked to cap off a best-ever year on tour, but it wasn’t to be.
Goffin won both his singles to put Belgium on the cusp of a first-ever Davis Cup, but a loss by Belgium in the doubles and two singles losses by Steve Darcis saw France lift the Davis Cup on Sunday 3-2 after a win in the final singles.
Tied 1-1 after the first day following wins by Goffin and France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who beat Darcis in straights, on Saturday France won the big doubles point when Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert defeated Belgians Ruben Bemelmans and Joris de Loore 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4. On Sunday Goffin evened the tie at 2-2 after defeating Tsonga in straights.
In the deciding singles France’s Lucas Pouille stepped up. Beaten by Goffin in straight sets on the opening Friday, Pouille in the decider rolled over Darcis 6-3, 6-1, 6-0.
“I’m so proud of my team,” said Pouille after watching France raise the cup for the first time in 16 years. “We really wanted this trophy and finally we’ve got it.”
Gasquet was a last-minute substitute by French captain Yannick Noah for doubles specialist Nicolas Mahut on Saturday.
“What a grand finale,” Noah said. “To have Lucas playing in his home town and winning the last game in Davis Cup, playing the way he played…it’s so beautiful.”
Darcis had won all five of his previous appearances in deciding Davis Cup matches for Belgium.
“I’m so emotional right now,” Pouille said afterwards. “To play in front of this crowd, in front of my family, my friends…it’s a feeling from another world.”
Goffin prior to the Davis Cup final had qualified for the year-end ATP Finals for the first time.
“It’s a disappointment even if I played two good matches,” Goffin said. “When the team loses we’re all disappointed. We gave it our all. It’s tough to finish this way but we did a lot of good things as a team this year.”
Tsonga in the first singles on Sunday gave away the first set, then went away. He received treatment on his neck at the end of the first set, and double-faulted his way to losing the second set. In the third set he was broken twice by the relentless defense of Goffin.
Mahut, left out of the doubles, cheered his team on from the sidelines.
“We waited for so many years to get the trophy back in France,” Mahut said. “French people were waiting for more than 15 years for this — that’s a long time with the team we have, with so many good players. Year after year we were losing and finally we have it. For me it’s a special week and we need time to really appreciate the moment.”
It was the 10th Davis Cup title for France and ended a three-time streak of losses in finals. The win moved France into a third-place tie with Britain, behind the United States which has 32 titles and Australia with 28.
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