Davis Cup: France take 2-0 lead over Czech Republic
Paris, Sep 13 (IANS) France captain Arnaud Clement's choice paid off as Richard Gasquet justified his faith by trouncing top Czech netman Tomas Berdych in straight sets, before Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's second match victory gave the hosts a 2-0 lead in Davis Cup semifinals here.
Gasquet, who was a surprise pick by Clement for the second singles berth rather than US Open quarterfinalist Gael Monfils, managed an excellent opening show on the red clay of Roland Garros' Court Phillipe Chatrier Friday, upsetting sixth-ranked Berdych 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 with only 12 unforced errors.
The 28-year-old world No.21 took control of the rhythm shortly into the match, broke in the fourth game with some smart play of single-handed backhand assault, rushed into a 3-0 lead in the second set before Berdych pulled a break back and again broke in as early as the first game in the third set. Berdych, who played the US Open quarterfinals eight days ago, seemed tired and failed to ever get going.
The second singles match featured world No.12 Tsonga against Lukas Rosol and it was another straight-set victory for the French with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 scoreline.
"I am very proud of the way they played," said Clement at a post-match press conference.
"For Richard it was perhaps the best match he has played in the Davis Cup and he chose right moment to do it."
"I had a lot of pressure, but the crowd was unbelievable," commented Gasquet on his own game.
France could complete the task of reaching their first Davis Cup final since 2010 with a doubles victory from Julien Benneteau/Gael Monfils, who face Radek Stepanek/Jiri Vesely Saturday.
And Sunday will be reverse singles if necessary. The winners of he tie will meet either Switzerland or Italy in the final slated for November 21-23.