Paris - Australia edged closer to a first Davis Cup final in
14 years on Saturday when Jordan Thompson and John Peers swept past Arthur De
Greef and Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 for a 2-1 lead in their semi-final
Australia, the 28-time champions, look likely to face
nine-time winners France who are 2-1 up on Serbia thanks to Nicolas Mahut and
Pierre-Hugues Herbert clinching a 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) win over Nenad Zimonjic
and Filip Krajinovic.
Lleyton Hewitt's Australia last won the Davis Cup in 2003
when they beat Spain in the final.
"We had a job to do today and we came out and did it
from start to finish. Playing with Thommo and in front of this crowd and
perform the way we did is just incredible," said Peers after Saturday's
win in Brussels.
Nick Kyrgios can wrap up the tie for Australia on Sunday
when he takes on fellow national number one David Goffin in the first of the
Kyrgios defeated Steve Darcis 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2
on Friday, while Goffin saw off John Millman 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.
In Lille, Mahut and Herbert needed less than two hours to
see off Serbia's 41-year-old playing captain Zimonjic and Krajinovic.
That Yannick Noah's hosts have yet to book their place in
the final is down to Dusan Lajovic's shock 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/5) win
in Friday's opening rubber against Lucas Pouille, although Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
had levelled the tie by beating debutant Laslo Djere 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 6-3.
Mahut and Herbert, the 2015 US Open and 2016 Wimbledon
champions, came back from 5-2 down in the third set to wrap up the win.
France are bidding for a first Davis Cup title since 2001,
having lost three finals since with the most recent a defeat by Roger Federer's
Switzerland in 2014.
"Nico and Pierre-Hugues had a mini-test at the end. It
was probably too easy and they wanted to give me an ulcer. But they did very
well. They had a good match," said Noah.
In the play-offs, where the winning teams will compete in
the World Group in 2018, Japan's tie with Brazil in Osaka was overshadowed by a
Brazil's Guilherme Clezar was fined $1 500 by the
International Tennis Federation (ITF) for making what appeared to be a slit-eyed
The 24-year-old journeyman issued an apology but denied any
racist intent following the incident during his defeat by Yuichi Sugita on
After successfully challenging a line call in the third-set
tiebreak, an exasperated Clezar stretched his eyes in an apparent criticism of
the line judge who made the call.
Saturday's action was rained off with Japan 2-0 ahead after
Friday's opening singles.
In Astana, Kazakhstan are 2-1 up on 2016 champions Argentina
while 2014 winners Switzerland trail Belarus 2-1 in Biel.
Max Mirnyi, 40, celebrated his 55th tie for Belarus over a
24-year career by teaming with Andrei Vasilevski in a 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6
(7/3) win over Adrian Bodmer and Luca Margaroli.
The Czech Republic lead the Netherlands 2-1 while Hungary
have a similar advantage over Russia.
The other World Group ties - Colombia v Croatia, Portugal
against Germany and Canada at home to India - are all level at 1-1 ahead of