India’s Rohan Bopanna and Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi team up and reach the US Open Men’s doubles final.
|Llodra, right, celebrates as captain Forget congratulates Clement after France’s victory in Lyon [AFP]|
Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement’s expertise in the doubles was too much for Argentina’s Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos as France clinched a 3-0 win to power into the Davis Cup final.
France, who got off to a perfect start on Friday with singles victories by Llodra and Gael Monfils, will face either Serbia away or the Czech Republic at home in the December 3-5 final.
Although they were without their injured number one Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Guy Forget’s team, who beat holders Spain in the previous round, went on the attack in all their three matches, backed by a loud Palais des Sports crowd in Lyon.
“I am very proud, they’re all here together, the seven of them, those who played and those who also contributed to this victory,” captain Forget said in a courtside interview as Monfils, substitute Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet, Tsonga and Julien Benneteau congratulated the Saturday’s winners.
Clement and Llodra, pairing up in the men’s team event for the first time since 2008, quickly found their marks, bagging the opening set with a spectacular point at the net.
The pair, who won the 2007 Wimbledon title together, raced to a 2-0, 40-0 lead in the second but became over-confident and let their opponents back into the match.
However, Llodra was too strong at the net, Clement too precise on his service returns, for them to be really threatened and they pocketed the second set with a decisive break in the 12th game.
Schwank and Zeballos continued to struggle at the net in the third and found themselves trailing 5-2.
Dozens of Argentina fans stood up and yelled their support to try to inspire a fight-back and they held serve to reach 5-3.
But the respite was short and a Llodra service winner clinched a deserved win for the home side after two hours and 29 minutes.
“This is fabulous. I am, with my friends, in the Davis Cup final, now with my friend Arnaud, I’m so happy,” said Llodra as many of the 6,000 fans waved French flags in the same arena where France won the Davis Cup final back in 1991.
“We’re like good wine, we get better with age.”
The 32-year-old Clement was grateful to get the chance to play a part in the team’s victory.
“I know I’m also here because others were injured. I now want everybody to be fit for the final so that Guy (Forget) can pick the best ones,” he said.
Monfils, a 6-4 2-6 6-4 6-3 winner against David Nalbandian on Friday, is due to play Juan Monaco in Sunday’s reverse singles.
Llodra, who beat Monaco 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-3, is set to take on Nalbandian.