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Lille | France triumph in Davis Cup final

France beat Belgium 3-2 to claim the 2017 Davis Cup for what is their 10th title since the competition was inaugurated, matching Britain’s total and placing them third equal with their neighbours in the table of titles won. Top of the list are the US (32) and Australia (28).

It was a victory we had been dreaming of. It’s a united group. It was a tough weekend against a good Belgian team. Lucas played a fantastic final match. Yannick Noah

It ends a run of three losses in finals since 2001 thanks to the return to captaincy of Yannick Noah who took charge in 2015 following the team’s loss to Switzerland for what was their third consecutive loss following defeats in 2002 and 2010.

Noah, who had previously led the French to Davis Cup victory in 1991 and 1996, was tasked to bring back a feel-good factor. “When you don’t win for 16 years, everybody is getting used to losing. That losing culture, it was destroying me,” he admitted during the post-match press conference.

With home advantage in Lille the French were expected to overwhelm the Belgians, led by David Goffin.

The Belgian No.1, who had lifted the ATP Masters title at the O2 on the previous Sunday, won both his singles to bring the visitors within one point of overall victory but a loss in the usually crucial doubles on Saturday, and the two defeats suffered by Steve Darcis, provided the hosts with the overall win in the fifth rubber.

The opening days saw both teams’ No.1s secure wins with Goffin repelling a strong challenge from Lucas Pouille 7-5 6-3 6-1 and Tsonga defeating Darcis 6-3 6-2 6-1.

Tied 1-1 after Friday’s play, France pulled ahead when they captured the doubles point thanks to Richard Gasquet, a replacement for Nicolas Mahut, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert who defeated the Belgians Ruben Bemelmans and Joris de Loore 6-1 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4.

Goffin then struck back on Sunday to level the tie at 2-2 when he defeated Tsonga, who required treatment to his neck following the opening set, 7-6(5) 6-3 6-2 leaving France’s Pouille with the task of clinching the title for Les Bleus in the final deciding rubber which he duly did, rolling over Darcis , who had won all his five previous deciding rubbers in Davis Cup matches, 6-3 6-1 6-0.

“I’m so proud of my team,” said Pouille after watching France raise the cup for the first time in 16 years. “We really wanted this trophy and finally we’ve got it.”

“What a grand finale,” Noah said. “To have Lucas playing in his home town and winning the last game in Davis Cup, playing the way he played…it’s so beautiful.”

“I’m so emotional right now,” Pouille said later. “To play in front of this crowd, in front of my family, my friends…it’s a feeling from another world.”

“It’s a disappointment even if I played two good matches,” Goffin said following the team’s defeat. “When the team loses we’re all disappointed. We gave it our all. It’s tough to finish this way but we did a lot of good things as a team this year.”

“It was a victory we had been dreaming of,” said the victorious Noah, the last Frenchman to have won a grand slam title. “It’s a united group. It was a tough weekend against a good Belgian team. Lucas played a fantastic final match.”



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