Brussels - Australia's
hopes of reaching a first Davis Cup final in 14 years were shattered
on Sunday when Belgium fought back from an overnight deficit to win their
semi-final 3-2 and set-up a title showdown with neighbours France.
Steve Darcis, the 33-year-old world number 77, held his nerve in the
deciding rubber in Brussels, coasting to a 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 victory over
Jordan Thompson, a last-minute call-up by Australia skipper Lleyton
Hewitt to replace John Millman.
David Goffin had levelled the semi-final earlier on Sunday by coming
back to defeat Nick Kyrgios 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, claiming his 15th
win in 16 Davis Cup singles rubbers.
Nine-time champions France made the final by seeing off Serbia 3-1 in
Lille and will host the Belgians in the November 24-26 championship
France won their most recent Davis Cup in 2001 before losing the
2002, 2010 and 2014 finals. Belgium made the final in 2015, losing to
Darcis won his 22nd Davis Cup tie but Goffin laid the foundation by
winning both of his singles matches against Australia who claimed the
last of their 28 titles back in 2003.
"When David Goffin plays like that, he's one of the best in the
world," said Kyrgios, whose own record in the tournament now stands at
seven wins and two losses.
"I can always do better, but he was simply too good today."
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fought back from a set down against Dusan Lajovic to lead France into the final.
Yannick Noah's hosts went into the day needing just one victory from
the final two singles rubbers to take an unassailable 3-1 lead against
an understrength Serbia, who were missing Novak Djokovic, Janko
Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki.
Lajovic had stunned Lucas
Pouille in the opening match of the last-four clash on Friday and he
eased to the opening set, only for Tsonga to find his rhythm and
eventually cruise to a 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 win.
"I am very happy for the squad. It was a joy to finish it on the
third singles, for me, for the team and for all the people who came to
support us," said Tsonga.
"There were more than 18 000 people here, it shows us that there is a craze for tennis in France."
In the play-offs, where the winners will feature in the World Group
next season, 2016 champions Argentina suffered the embarrassment of
being relegated to the zonal groups after a 3-2 defeat to Kazakhstan in
Switzerland, the 2014 winners, edged Belarus 3-2 in Biel despite the absence of Roger Federer and injured Stan Wawrinka.
Boris Becker's first outing as head of tennis with Germany ended with
a 3-2 win over Portugal in Lisbon while the Netherlands overturned an
overnight 1-2 deficit to beat 2012 and 2013 champions Czech Republic to
win 3-2 in The Hague.
It is the first time in 11 years that the Czechs have lost their World Group status.
Hungary stunned Russia 3-1 in Budapest while 2005 champions Croatia,
who were runners-up last year, also stay in the World Group with a 3-1
win against Colombia in Bogota.
Other ties to finish see Canada 2-1 up on India in Edmonton while
Japan's tie at home to Brazil in Osaka was washed out for the second
successive day and will be finished on Monday.
Davis Cup results on Sunday:
France 3 Serbia 1
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) bt Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2
Lucas Pouille (FRA) v Laslo Djere (SRB) - not played
Nicolas Mahut/Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) bt Nenad Zimonjic/Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3)
Dusan Lajovic (SRB) bt Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/5)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) bt Laslo Djere (SRB) 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 6-3
Belgium 3 Australia 2
David Goffin (BEL) bt Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4
Steve Darcis (BEL) bt Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-4, 7-5, 6-2
Jordan Thompson/John Peers (AUS) bt Arthur De Greef/Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) 6-3, 6-4, 6-0
David Goffin (BEL) bt John Millman (AUS) 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-5
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) bt Steve Darcis (BEL) 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2
World Group playoffs:
Kazakhstan 3 Argentina 2
Colombia 1 Croatia 3
Switzerland 3 Belarus 2
Netherlands 3 Czech Republic 2
Portugal 2 Germany 3
Japan 2 Brazil 0 (to finish Monday)
Hungary 3 Russia 1
Canada 2 India 1