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07 April 2013

Berlocq victory returns Argentina to semifinals


MATCH REPORT

By Rex Gowar and Federico Coronado

Photo: Sergio LlameraCarlos Berlocq (ARG)

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Carlos Berlocq was Argentina’s hero with a four-set victory over Gilles Simon to hand his country victory over France in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinal at Parque Roca on Sunday.

The 30-year-old, who has spent most of his career on the Challenger circuit and only made his Davis Cup debut last year, fed on the passionate support of the home crowd for his unlikely 64 57 64 64 win over the world No. 13.

Earlier, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga kept France in the tie with a 63 63 60 mauling of Juan Monaco after Argentina’s upset victory in Saturday’s doubles had handed them an unexpected 2-1 lead.

“It’s definitely the best result of my career,” Berlocq told the post-match news conference.

“Sincerely, I don’t have words to describe what I feel,” Berlocq said.

“You can’t imagine how scared I was before going out (onto the court), the tension there was all match. I felt I was getting cramp, that he wouldn’t miss a shot. It was an achievement, the victory of a team.

“We have to keep working, to get there in the best shape,” he added of the semi-final away to the Czechs.

“I’m extermely disappointed, I wanted to win this point for the team,” said Simon after France’s first defeat by Argentina in six meetings.

“It was very hard, I had an adversary who was playing well and a crowd that didn’t let up during four hours,” he added of the passionate support for Berlocq from Argentina’s “hinchada loca” fans with their drums, trumpets and chants.

“(The crowd) didn’t help me. Argentina is lucky to have some of the best supporters in the world… The players can use the crowd (to lift their game) when they’re tired.”

Berlocq was solid from the baseline as the match swayed one way then the other with several breaks of serve per set until the Argentine went 5-2 up in the fourth.

“The difference between (Berlocq and Monaco) is that Carlos plays a lot higher, but neither goes much to the net so you have to construct your points well,” Simon said.

Berlocq’s patience in the long rallies also allowed him to stay firm as Simon saved five match points in two separate games and broke the Argentine’s serve in between before clinching victory.

Tsonga’s victory had given Simon, beaten by Monaco in Friday’s singles, the chance to save the tie in the final rubber.

The big Frenchman, world number eight, showed he meant business from the off, breaking “Pico” Monaco’s first service game and quickly going 3-0 up.

Two more breaks of service allowed Tsonga to reel off the second set with two successive points at the net.

If Monaco thought he might improve his chances by donning his cap for the third set, he hadn’t counted on Tsonga moving from what a man in the crowd called his “warm-up for Roland Garros” to an outright sprint to victory.

Monaco did not win a single point in the opening three games of the deciding set and only one in the next as Tsonga proceeded to tear him apart and went 4-0 up with a superb lob that hit the baseline.

“Every time I’ve played against Juan, it’s me who’s on the court and he chasing the balls,” Tsonga told the post-match news conference.

“He doesn’t have the weapons to destabilise me, make me run. He regularly plays the diagonal (shots), I don’t need to be explosive, just position myself well.”

Argentina’s captain Martin Jaite said: “We are very happy and a bit surprised with this win

“We prepared hard to win and it was a very emotional tie for my players… They played above themselves.

“I’m not thinking about the Czech Republic now, just that we have to play away and that it will be on a fast court,” concluded Jaite, knowing it is not Argentina’s best surface and will require extra work in preparation to face the title holders."

See scores or watch highlights here

Captain Martin Jaite (ARG) - 07/04/2013

Carlos Berlocq (ARG) - 07/04/2013

Captain Arnaud Clement (FRA) - 07/04/2013

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