France take 2-1 Davis Cup lead

France took a potentially decisive 2-1 lead in their Davis Cup quarter-final against Switzerland.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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Lausanne, Switzerland:

France took a potentially decisive lead in their Davis Cup quarter-final against Switzerland after the doubles pairing of Nicolas Escude and Michael Llodra beat Roger Federer and Yves Allegro 6-7 (7-4), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 in Lausanne. The French now hold a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-five tie going into Sunday's reverse singles. With honours having been shared between Switzerland and France in Friday's opening singles rubbers of their Davis Cup quarter final, Saturday saw the doubles which would decide who had the edge at the start of Sunday's reverse singles. The Swiss pairing of Yves Allegro and the world number one Roger Federer were up against Nicolas Escude and Michael Llodra of France, and after racing to a 3-0 lead in the first set, the French broke back to 3-3 with a little help from the net cord. The first set went to a tiebreak, where the Escude serve came under enormous pressure. The Frenchman conceded three points during the breaker, the last of which gave Federer the chance to put away a forehand winner to seal the first set 7-6 (7-4) in 49 minutes. Then attention turned to the service of the Wimbledon and Australian Open champion. Federer had already been broken in the first set and lost his serve again in the second—Escude this time standing his ground in a battle at the net and coming out on top. It proved to be the vital break as the French went on to take the set 6-3, the impressive Michael Llodra forcing an error from Federer to square the match 6-7, 6-3. Escude and Llodra now had the initiative, but the third set turned into a dour war of attrition, and another tiebreak ensued. The Swiss appeared set to regain their lead at 5 points to three, but 6 out of the next seven points went the way of the French and Llodra jumped for joy as his winning forehand gave them the lead for the first time in the match. Swiss hearts were broken and Yves Allegro was broken in the fourth game of the fourth set. Escude and Llodra kept the Swiss at arm's length and it was appropriate that Michael Llodra held his serve to close out the match. The French duo won 6-7 (7-4), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 in exactly three hours and have taken what could prove to be a crucial step towards the semi-finals. Escude gained revenge for his heavy defeat at the hands of Federer on Friday, and teammate Arnaud Clement could book France a place in the last four if he can beat Federer in the first reverse singles tomorrow. If Federer proves victorious, the match will be decided by the final rubber between Escude, who has never lost a deciding match for France in five appearances, and Ivo Heuberger. Switzerland beat France in Toulouse at the quarter-final stage twelve months ago. (AP)