France keeps qualifying hopes alive

The win by France's Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra over the US duo Bob and Mike Bryan in their Davis Cup quarter-final keeps the team in the contest. Spain is the only team who has already booked its last-four ticket.


WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina, April 12 (Reuters) - Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra kept France alive in their Davis Cup quarter-final against the United States on Saturday with an impressive 6-7 7-5 6-3 6-4 win over Bob and Mike Bryan. 

The Americans will go into Sunday's reverse singles with a 2-1 lead but will be disappointed their top-ranked doubles duo did not close out the tie on day two of the tie. 

Andy Roddick is slated to play Paul-Henri Mathieu in the opening match on Sunday, while James Blake will take on Llodra in the fifth rubber. 

The writing was on the wall for the Americans when Mike Bryan netted a forehand and allowed the Frenchmen to go ahead 4-3 with a break in the fourth set. 

Despite the setback, the U.S. would still fancy their chances of securing a last-four showdown against Spain since France have only surged back to win a tie from 0-2 down on three occasions -- the last time being against Italy in the 1996 semi-finals. 

In career meetings, Clement and Llodra now have a 4-2 winning record against Bob and Mike Bryan - the Frenchmen won their last outing in the 2007 Wimbledon final.

"We knew before the match we had to play a very good match because a good match is never enough against them," Llodra said. "It was the same match at Wimbledon, we lost the first set in the tiebreaker and then won the next three sets." 

The loss prevented the Bryans from surpassing John McEnroe and Peter Fleming as the most successful American doubles pairing in the men's team event. 

McEnroe and Fleming hold a 14-1 win-loss record, while the Bryans are now 14-2. 

After saving a set point against them in the opening set, the Americans bagged the first set when Mike Bryan hit a winning forehand crosscourt volley to take the tiebreak 9-7. 

The Bryans celebrated the moment with one of their trademark chest bumps but their joy was short-lived. 

The French secured the first break of the match in the second set when Clement produced a sizzling backhand crosscourt volley. 

The French kept up the momentum in the third set by racing into a 2-0 lead thanks to a forehand error from Bob Bryan and went on to secure a memorable victory.

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