Madrid: Two days after clinching the doubles title in the ATP Finals, French duo Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut gave France an opening win in the Davis Cup Finals.
Herbert and Mahut rallied to defeat Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan 6-7 4), 6-4, 7-5 in the deciding doubles match in Group A on Tuesday, giving top-ranked France a 2-1 victory.
The French duo squandered two match points while serving at 5-4, but capitalised on their chance at 6-5 to clinch the victory for last year’s Davis Cup runner-up.
The teams were tied after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga cruised past Uchiyama 6-2, 6-1 and Yoshihito Nishioka defeated Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-2.
In the new Davis Cup format, teams play only two singles and a doubles in each tie, with the group winners advancing to the knockout stage.
Herbert and Mahut did not drop a single set in five matches at the ATP Finals, where they defeated Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand in the final on Sunday.
Argentina comfortably defeated Chile 3-0, while Kazakhstan also needed the doubles match to beat the Netherlands 2-1 and clinch its first away Davis Cup win since 2011.
Guido Pella beat Nicolas Jarry 6-4, 6-3 and Diego Schwartzman defeated Cristian Garin 6-2, 6-2 to give Argentina the opening win in Group C. The tie was already decided when Máximo González and Leonardo Mayer topped Jarry and Hans Podlipnik-Castillo 6-3, 7-5 in the doubles match.
“It’s the end of the season but I think I played one of the best matches for sure of the year, maybe in my career,” the 14th-ranked Schwartzman said. “I think Guido helped me a lot to be more confident in this match and I played unreal tennis.”
Kazakhstan took the opening win against the Netherlands in Group E when Mikhail Kukushkin and Alexander Bublik defeated Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4, 7-6(2) in the deciding doubles match.
Kukushkin had beaten Botic van de Zanschulp 6-2, 6-2, while Haase defeated Bublik 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(5).
Host Spain open against Russia later on Tuesday with top-ranked Rafael Nadal playing. Russia defeated defending champions Croatia on Monday.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Britain’s Andy Murray will make their first appearance in the revamped competition on Wednesday. Serbia takes on Japan and Britain plays against the Netherlands.
The new Davis Cup is being played in World Cup-style with all 18 teams playing in a single venue in the same week. It is the result of a 25-year partnership between the International Tennis Federation and Kosmos, a group co-founded by Barcelona soccer player Gerard Piqué.
Organizers said more than 12,000 fans attended the matches on the three courts on Monday. More than 8,000 were there for Sunday’s Open Day.
Tickets for Spain’s match on the 12,000-capacity center court at the “Magic Box” tennis complex were sold out in advance.
Organizers had said more than 100,000 tickets had been sold ahead of the week-long tournament.
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Updated Date: Nov 19, 2019 23:36:06 IST