France closes out Canada in Davis Cup tie
Posposil, Bester fall in doubles to Tsonga, Gasquet
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet sent France into the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup with a straight-sets victory in the doubles match of their first-round tie with Canada on Saturday.
Tsonga and Gasquet defeated Philip Bester and Vasek Pospisil 7-6 (4), 6-1, 7-6 (4) to give the hosts an unsurmountable 3-0 lead on the outdoor clay court of the Velodrome Amedee Detraux.
While France fielded its strongest team, also featuring Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon, Canada traveled to Guadeloupe without its best player Milos Raonic — out because of an adductor injury — and doubles specialist Daniel Nestor.
Bester played cup doubles for the first time.
In very hot and sunny conditions, Tsonga and Gasquet struggled to find their rhythm and saved four set points in the ninth game on Tsonga's serve. A backhand pass from Gasquet gave the French a 5-3 lead in the tiebreak and Tsonga sealed it with a service winner.
The French duo claimed the second set in 27 minutes, then controlled the final tiebreak.
The French won a tie without dropping a set for the first time in 13 years, after Simon and Monfils, whose father comes from Guadeloupe, won their opening singles in straight sets on Friday.
The nine-time Davis Cup champion will either face Czech Republic or Germany in the quarterfinals in July. The Czechs led 2-1 in Hannover. Canada will now have to play a World Group play-off tie in September to try and keep their spot in the upper echelon of the competition. Canada's opponent and the choice of ground for that tie will be determined in July after the final round of zonal ties are played.
"It's always disappointing to lose, especially when playing for your country and your team but we gave it all we had so no regrets," Pospisil said. "It was tough conditions, tough opponents and just a tough weekend. Definitely not the way we wanted to go out."
"We are going to have a tough second round but if my team is in good shape, if we are ready mentally, we should win, regardless of who we play," France captain Yannick Noah said. "With all due respect to all the other teams, we have the quality to win the whole thing."
France was playing in the French Caribbean islands for the first time after Noah convinced the French federation to stage the contest away from the mainland. Noah, who replaced Arnaud Clement following a disappointing 2015 campaign, is captain for the third time after guiding France to Davis Cup titles in 1991 and 1996. He also led France to its maiden victory in the Fed Cup in 1997.
With files from Tennis Canada