Serbia take unassailable lead

DONE AND DUSTED: France’s Nicolas Mahut (centre) and team-mate Julien Benneteau (left) celebrate with team captain Yannick Noah after their doubles win against Spain that helped them take an unbeatable 3-0 lead, on Saturday. AFP

Rohan Bopanna and Saketh Myneni lost the do-or-die doubles rubber against Serbia as India conceded an unassailable 0-3 lead to lose the Davis World Group Play-off tie here on Saturday.

However India can still have a shot at the qualification for the Davis Cup finals in five months from now as per new rules.

After losing both the singles on Friday, India needed a win to stay alive but Bopanna and Myneni, who replaced originally nominated N Sriram Balaji, could not keep the country afloat.

They lost 6-7(5), 2-6, 6-7(4) to relatively inexperienced pair of Nikola Milojevic and Danilo Petrovic after two hours and 22 minutes on indoor courts at Kraljevo Sports Venue.

The reverse singles, scheduled for Sunday, have now become inconsequential. Bopanna and Myneni, who recently made a comeback to the competitive tennis from an injury, had a set point in the third set, serving at 5-3 but dropped serve.

The Serbians did not give the Indians any more chances and sealed the tie in the hosts favour.

India have now lost three ties in a row to Serbia, which did not have its top players.

India were expected to do a better job than this, since reigning US Open Champion Novak Djokovic opted out and Filip Krajinovic pulled out due to an injury.

Since new Davis Cup reforms have been introduced India will not have to go back to Asia/Oceania Group immediately.

Instead, India will compete in a 24-team qualifying event (home and away format) in February, 2019 to qualify for the 18-team Davis Cup Finals, to be held either in Madrid or Lille from November 18-24, next year

France in final

Defending champions France took an unassailable 3-0 semifinal lead over Spain on Saturday when Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau beat Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers 6-0, 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) in the third of five rubbers on the Lille hardcourt.

France, captained by 1983 French Open winner Yannick Noah, will meet either Croatia or the United States in the final in late November.

Davis Cup rookie Benoit Paire gave France a winning start on Friday when the bearded 29-year-old enjoyed what he termed “a dream” 7-5 6-1 6-0 defeat of Pablo Carreno Busta. Lucas Pouille’s nerve-jangling five-set victory -- 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 -- over Roberto Bautista-Agut in the following match made it 2-0.

US stay alive

The United States cut Croatia’s lead to 2-1 in their semifinal as Mike Bryan and Ryan Harrison won a dramatic doubles rubber in Zadar on Saturday.

Croatia, who saw Marin Cilic and Borna Coric both win their singles matches on Friday, will try again on Sunday to book a final date with defending champions France in November.

Bryan and Harrison won a deciding-set tie-break to end a thrilling comeback from Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic with a 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 1-6, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5) victory after four hours and 43 minutes on court.

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Serbia take unassailable lead

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