France takes 2-1 Davis Cup final lead

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 3:11 PM ET

Belgrade, Serbia - Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra came charging back on Saturday to beat Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic and give France a 2-1 lead over host Serbia in the 2010 Davis Cup final.

The veterans Clement and Llodra trailed two-sets-to-love before mounting their comeback to overtake Troicki and Zimonjic 3-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 and stun the home faithful at a jam-packed Belgrade Arena, which also featured a sizeable French contingent on Day 2.

Clement and Llodra needed 4 hours, 34 minutes to complete their gutsy comeback. The proud French tandem managed four service breaks during the long and tense encounter, while Troicki and Zimonjic settled for only two in the gut-wrenching defeat.

The diminutive Clement lost his serve in both sets that the French dropped on Day 2, but the speedy Frenchman hit a tremendous lob that landed on the baseline and produced a huge service break in the 11th game of the fourth set, which France captured via Clement hold.

France broke Serbia, when Zimonjic lost his serve, to open the fifth set and would not look back after that. Clement-Llodra held serve throughout the stanza, including a rubber-ending hold in the final game. Troicki-Zimonjic wound up with 26 more unforced errors (60-34) in the discouraging setback, which ended with a volley winner from Llodra.

The 32-year-old former Australian Open runner-up Clement improved to 8-2 in his career Davis Cup doubles matches, while the 30-year-old lefthanded Llodra is now 15-5 as a partner in this storied 111-year-old international team competition.

The newest Davis Cup champion will be decided in Sunday's reverse singles, as world No. 3 Serbian star Novak Djokovic will face 12th-ranked Frenchman Gael Monfils and 42nd-ranked Frenchman Gilles Simon is scheduled to meet 49th- ranked Janko Tipsarevic. If Monfils can upset Djokovic in the Day-3 opener, France would secure the coveted chalice for a 10th time.

In Friday's singles action, Monfils opened the best-of-five tie by pouncing all over Tipsarevic 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0, while the nightcap on the indoor hardcourts here saw the U.S. Open runner-up and former Aussie Open champion Djokovic humble Simon 6-3, 6-1, 7-5.

The visiting French, who are currently fifth in the Davis Cup rankings, are captained by Guy Forget, while the No. 4 Serbs are being led by Bogdan Obradovic. Serbia is playing in its first-ever Davis Cup final, while nine- time champion France is seeking its first title since 2001. Only the United States (32) and Australia (28) have lifted the Davis Cup more than the French.

Serbia is part of the former Yugoslavia, which went 4-4 all-time against the French in previous Davis Cup play. France and Serbia are meeting for the first time.


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