US v Spain in Davis Cup semis

2012-04-08 15:44

Paris - The United States will face holders Spain in the last four of the Davis Cup later this year, after they both took unassailable 3-1 leads over France and Austria in their quarter-final matches on Sunday.

In Monte Carlo, John Isner beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 5-7, 6-3 while in Oropesa del Mar, David Ferrer won in straight sets against Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.

The semi-final tie - a repeat of last year's quarter-final - will take place in Spain in September.

France's defeat robbed Guy Forget of taking his team to the finals for the fifth and final time since he was appointed in 1999. He now steps down after contesting 14 Davis Cups.

Speaking to the crowd at the Monte Carlo Country Club afterwards, an emotional Forget said of his time in the job: "It's been long but it's been fantastic. Thanks to you and because of my friends, it's been the best time of my life.

"Thanks to you I've dreamed and I'm still dreaming," Forget said, with tears in his eyes, vowing to keep backing the team in the future.

Under his watch, France have made it to four Davis Cup finals and won once, in 2001.

France had high hopes this year of winning their 10th Davis Cup, after they were drawn at home to most of their main rivals and top players like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who was in the stands on Sunday, decided to sit out the tournament.

But they were tripped up by a strong US team who had previously beaten Switzerland, including former world No 1 Roger Federer.

Brothers Bob and Mike Bryan took the visitors to the brink of a semi-finals berth on Saturday, beating Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) in their doubles rubber.

That left it to Isner, the US No 1 singles player, to overcome French No 1 Tsonga.

Despite being world No 6 , five places above Isner, Tsonga looked the weaker of the two and less experienced, frequently arguing with the umpire as the first two sets slipped from his grasp.

On the other hand Isner stayed focused, even after he had to chase away a wasp with his racket.

Tsonga finally got his game together and managed to take the third set but the impressive American did not panic and fought back to take the fourth.

"I didn't play well enough to win today against John and he took full advantage," admitted Tsonga afterwards.

In Spain, Ferrer, ranked five in the world, upped the ante after a fiercely contested first set and broke 21st-ranked Melzer in his first service game of the second set as he produced several sizzling returns of serve.

However, Melzer showed his mettle in breaking back to trail 4-3 but Ferrer replied brilliantly to break the Austrian's serve immediately and then serve out for the set.

The duo shared the first six games of the third set before Ferrer wore down his opponent to break him and then held serve before sealing the match on the Austrian's serve, after Melzer had saved two match points.