September 14, 2014
Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga completed a sparkling two days for the French pair, as they edged what became a decisive doubles clash against Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek.
In doing so they sent Roland Garros into Davis Cup raptures. Now France could host Switzerland in the final.
Having won their respective singles matches on Friday with scintillating displays against Berdych and Lukas Rosol in Paris, Gasquet and Tsonga faced a severe test of nerve when they lost Saturday’s opening-set tie-break in what fast turned into a nail-biting doubles showdown. Berdych and Stepanek seemed to have put the Czechs right back in the semi-final when they triumphed 4-7 in that tense breaker.
However, Tsonga and Gasquet soon took the sting out of the Czechs and seized control of the second set to level with a smooth, 6-4 reply. It was breaker-time yet again at the end of the third, as the French capital held its collective breath. On this occasion, the momentum was firmly with the French, though the tie-break victory margin was narrower at 7-5. That piece of drama proved to be the last serious resistance the Czechs could provide, because Gasquet and Tsonga romped away to take the fourth set 6-1.
And so the raucous celebrations could begin. The only question remaining was the identity of France’s opponents in the final.
The Italian pair of Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli hit back to win their doubles against the Swiss partnership of Stan Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli 7-5, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 in a five-set, four-hour thriller in Geneva.
That kept the other semi-final alive at 2-1 to Switzerland, who remained favourites to progress, despite their setback.
If Roger Federer, rested on Saturday, wins the opening match against Fabio Fognini on Sunday, it will still be the Swiss who confirm their place in the Davis Cup final against the French. Federer has never won the Davis Cup, having claimed just about every other prize in tennis.
Gasquet and Tsonga will be out to break the great man’s heart, should they meet in that final as expected.