Doubles loss sees Brits crash out of Davis Cup
- Author: Julie Sanders Apr 09, 2017,
Apr 09, 2017, 7:15
Kyle Edmund gave it his all, while Dan Evans desperately tried to fathom a way to play on a surface that he had not set foot on in nearly three...
France, who haven't won the Davis Cup in 16 years, asserted their dominance immediately on Saturday when Mahut and Benneteau snatched the opening set on a tie-break.
Those were the days of Josh Goodall, Chris Eaton, Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins and the record shows the country went on to lose the next two ties. "GB [Great Britain] are without their best player".
France only needs to win Saturday's doubles match to reach the semifinals. Smith said before the tie started that Britain's highest-ranked player in the team - the world No. 44 - could be a good player on clay, but that it would take something he hasn't got: time. "Without Andy, against the top teams, GB will struggle". The absence of Andy Murray had always meant that this would be an uphill battle on the indoor clay of Rouen for Leon Smith's team.
On the other side though, the French also have injuries too.
The British player, drafted into the singles line-up after the injury-enforced withdrawal of world number one Andy Murray, was made to pay for letting slip a 5/2 lead in the second-set tiebreak.
It was the latter in particular who turned on the style in the crucial stages, producing two set points out of nowhere, and though Britain defended them manfully, when faced by a third, Murray suffered his first double fault of the match.
Mahut grabbed match point with a screaming drive in the 12th game.
Here in Rouen their skills, communication and tactics were given a thorough examination, and it was no surprise that the contest lasted 3 hours, 20 minutes even though only four sets were played.
The unheralded Thompson stunned world number 15 Jack Sock in four sets in the opening rubber before Kyrgios saw off the big-serving John Isner 7-5, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5).
Murray's solidity paid dividends shortly afterwards, however.
The Briton had his chances in the third set, but he failed to convert a break point in fifth game.
Once again it was left to Murray to serve to stay in the set but the French were on fire.
Smith, whose side won the cup in 2015 with the younger Murray, said: "We're better than we used to be, that's for sure ..."
That would make it more amenable for the star players to take part, as well as enhancing the brand appeal of sport's most venerated annual competition.