United States eliminates France from Davis Cup
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The United States took an unassailable 3-1 lead over France in the Davis Cup on Sunday after American John Isner (pictured) defeated Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 5-7, 6-3, in quarter-finals in Monte Carlo.
AP - John Isner’s big serve and solid forehand proved too strong for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as he beat the Frenchman 6-3, 7-6 (4) 5-7, 6-3 on Sunday to ease the United States into the Davis Cup semifinals.
Tsonga had chances, but could only break his serve once as the Americans took an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series, setting up a match against Spain in the final.
“I gave everything I could in the battle,” Tsonga said. “I didn’t have much luck today and John took his chances. At 0-3 down in the fourth set, it became ‘Mission Impossible.'”
Isner built on the U.S. team’s momentum after winning Saturday’s doubles in straight sets, without facing a break point, while the pressure was clearly on the sixth-ranked Tsonga to level the match.
“You have to congratulate him. John Isner was huge today,” France captain Guy Forget said. “He played very well and he has a lot of talent. (United States Captain) Jim Courier is a great leader, and he has a lot of class.”
Later, Gilles Simon was scheduled to play the 19-year-old Ryan Harrison in the meaningless final rubber at the Monte Carlo Country club.
It will be Forget’s last match as France’s Davis Cup captain.
Unlike on Saturday, when the crowd cheered more in hope than conviction for doubles pair Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra, the French fans really got behind Tsonga early on.
But when he got to deuce on Isner’s serve in the seventh game, the American’s response was simple and brutal: two aces that Tsonga couldn’t get anywhere near to.
Tsonga trailed 15-40 in the next game, and Isner broke for a 5-3 lead when the Frenchman’s big second serve was slightly too long.
Having taken Tsonga’s serve, Isner made a statement with his next service game: holding to love and clinching the set in 34 minutes with another ace that whistled past Tsonga before he could even move.
Nerves got to Tsonga and he offered Isner a gift of a break point at the start of the second set, sending a routine smash into the net. He saved that break point with a strong forehand that Isner could only paddle back into the net.
In the next game, Tsonga’s drop shot gave him his first chance of a service break. But, as he did all too often, Tsonga went for an extravagant forehand winner and the ball went out.
Tsonga’s mixed performance featured some great touches around the net and poor serving. He even shouted out ‘Ah, non!’ (Oh, no!) after a sloppy double fault in the fifth game.
Isner was under little threat, and appeared more troubled by a wasp fluttering around his face midway through the second set, failing with several attempts to flick and then swatted it away with his racket.
The tiebreaker went with serve until Isner stepped forward and smacked a big forehand down the line that rocketed past Tsonga. He clinched the set with yet another ace, timed at 227 kilometers per hour (140.7 miles per hour).
Tsonga finally began to make inroads on Isner’s serve in the third set, pressuring him at 15-40 in the third game.
But he had to wait until the 11th game to actually break him.
Tsonga found his touch, wrongfooting Isner with a sublime crosscourt forehand on the run to make it 15-40. The American dug deep to force deuce, but his opponent kept coming at him, and a wonderful two-handed backhand pass gave Tsonga another chance to break. This time, he took it, prompting a huge roar from the crowd.
With the Frenchman serving for the set, Isner missed a great chance at 30-30 when he stretched for a volley at the net and it landed just wide. Tsonga clinched the set on his second serve when Isner’s return landed out.
However, the home crowd’s hopes of a revival evaporated when Isner broke early in the fourth set and held on for a 3-0 lead. He sealed victory with a volley at the net and turned to celebrate with Courier, before graciously remembering to turn back and wait for Tsonga.
Forget and four-time Grand Slam champion Courier then hugged each other.
“We always got on well as players,” Forget said.