France defeat Britain to reach Davis Cup semis

Julien Benneteau of France celebrate with teammate after defeating Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot of Britain during their doubles Davis Cup quarterfinal tennis match between France and Britain at the Kindarena Stadium of Rouen, France, Saturday, April 8, 2017.

Murray and Inglot were beaten 7-6 (9-7) 5-7 7-5 7-5 by Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau on day two in Rouen.

Great Britain have played in every edition since its inauguration in 1900 and won it 10 times; France joined in 1904 and have been champions nine times.

Benneteau's serve wobbled badly but he held to force the tie-break, where GB went 4-1 up before losing their composure - much as Kyle Edmund had done in a similar situation against Lucas Pouille on the opening day.

The victor of the tie will play Great Britain or France in the semi-finals in September.

"You put Andy into the equation and the odds are you win two singles and possibly the match", John Lloyd, the captain in the 2009 Ukraine defeat, told the BBC. "Not part of the tie proper but if it is a dead rubber a junior gets to play, I think that's a good move, or an under-21 player or something like that, legends event, - there's different ways to do it, but yeah today was a great atmosphere but this nation's quite unique in their love for tennis that way". "Hopefully we can play the semi-final at home and ultimately we want to bring back the trophy to France". Mahut, who has a heart as big as the local cathedral, left us with an abiding memory: hurdling a court boundary marker to make an impossible return of an acutely angled smash in the 10th game. I don't need Davis Cup players.

That run might have represented overachievement, as the presence or absence of Andy Murray - he missed this tie as he recovered from an elbow injury - so often has appeared crucial to the country's fortunes.

Viktor Troicki, the world 39, then made it 2-0 for Serbia by seeing off 19th-ranked Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

"We have got a few extra weeks on the clay, I come into Monte-Carlo with a few more matches under my belt so it has been fun".

That stat in itself is a measure of the improvement that has been made by the British team on the Davis Cup circuit in recent years, culminating with the title in 2015.

Mahut, a former world No 1 at doubles, showed his class in the third set moments after wasting a set point by forcing another advantage for France, which they took to go 2-1 ahead.

"I enjoyed it. It was always going to be that way, I guess".

The lesser light of the British doubles partnership also used a volleyed backhand lob to great effect in the third set to give them an early break but, as in the first set, they couldn't capitalise further.

The victor faces Belgium or Italy in September.

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