France and Australia each moved within one victory away from reaching the final of the Davis Cup tennis competition with doubles victories over Serbia and Belgium respectively.
Playing on clay at Pierre Mauroy Stadium here on Saturday, the French doubles duo of Pierre Hugues-Herbert and Nicolas Mahut cruised through the first two sets before wrapping up a 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) victory over Nenad Zimonjic and Filip Krajinovic in just one hour and 48 minutes to give the hosts a 2-1 lead in the tie, reports Efe.
The statistics reflected the French team's total domination in all phases as Hugues-Herbert and Mahut struck 37 winners to 21 for their opponents while also making fewer unforced errors (18 versus 23).
The Frenchmen's return game was particularly impressive as they broke serve twice in each set.
They also were dominant on serve through the first two sets and a half, although the match took a strange twist midway through the third when Serbia reeled off four straight games to grab a 6-5 lead.
The Frenchmen, however, righted the ship in time to seal the victory in the tie-breaker.
"They were trying to play with my nerves or something, they were testing me. They had these perfect two sets, three sets, 5-2 with two breaks ... and the next thing we know it's 5-5, but we had a good reaction in the tie-break so I'm relieved," French captain Yannick Noah said.
France will now look to clinch a berth in the Davis Cup final in Sunday's reverse singles.
World No. 18 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be favoured to get the tie-clinching win when he takes on 80th-ranked Dusan Lajovic in the fourth rubber; if Lajovic pulls off the upset, the tie will come down to a match between 22nd-ranked Lucas Pouille and 95th-ranked Laslo Djere.
In other Davis Cup semi-final action on Saturday in Brussels, played on red clay at Palais 12 stadium, the Australian team of John Peers and Jordan Thompson eased past the Belgian duo of Ruben Bemelmans and Arthur De Greef 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.
"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," Peers said.
Australia leads 2-1 heading into first the reverse singles match on Sunday between 12th-ranked Belgian David Goffin and 20th-ranked Australian Nick Kyrgios.
Kyrgios can clinch the tie for Australia with a win.
But if Goffin emerges victorious, a berth in the final will be decided in a match-up pitting 77th-ranked Belgian veteran Steve Darcis against 185th-ranked Australian John Millman.
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