France won an enthralling doubles rubber in Rouen to progress to the 2017 Davis Cup World Group Semi Finals. The home pair of Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut edged home 7-6(7) 5-7 7-5 7-5 to beat Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray after 3 hours and twenty minutes of high class doubles action.
It's always really disappointing to lose because we've got used to going a little bit deeper into the year
The spectators in the Kindarena were never sure of the outcome until JamieÈs final volley hit the top of the net before falling back to trigger wild scenes of French celebration.
The first set had gone with serve, with neither side coming close to a break, until Benneteau served at 5-6. He looked comfortable at 40-love, but a couple of double faults led to a comeback by the British pair. Three times they had set point, foiled by a volley from Mahut, a good second serve by Benneteau and a netted volley by Inglot.
Britain led 4-1 in the tiebreak but France clung on, eventually edging ahead at 8-7 and closing it out when Inglot was again forced into a volley error.
The second set was again serve dominated, but the British pair earned the first service break of the match to go ahead 6-5. Jamie served out to level the rubber at one set all.
The third and fourth sets were full of drama, with the French breaking Jamie in the twelfth game of each to seal the match and the tie.
It had been a superb contest, and the French fans were justifiably jubilant at the end.
Captain Leon Smith told Sportinglife.com: "It’s always really disappointing to lose because we’ve got used to going a little bit deeper into the year but we played against a very good team and we’ve still maintained our World Group status, which is important for us.
"A quarter-final, a win, a semi-final, a quarter-final – in decades previous you weren’t getting that. You’ve got Andy and Jamie (Murray) at the very top of the game, Jo Konta at the very top of the game.
"Do we lack depth? Yes of course we lack depth, that’s pretty bloody obvious, and we want to make sure that we find a few more players both on the men’s and women’s side that are playing on the main tour.
"It’s a damn sight better than it used to be but there’s still work to be done."