VANCOUVER, CANADA: France are into the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinals for the third straight year after powering past Canada 3-1 in Vancouver.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga settled the issue by defeating Frank Dancevic 64 64 61 in the first singles match of the day on Sunday. Dancevic, Canada’s No. 3 in singles, was pressed into action after the country’s top player Milos Raonic was forced to the sidelines by a knee injury suffered during Saturday’s doubles match.
Tsonga started quickly and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set and appeared to be on his way to an easy victory before Dancevic found his game and brought the Canadian crowd to life. But the world No. 6 was able to win key points late in both the first and second sets preventing Dancevic, ranked No. 178, from clawing his way back into the match.
Tsonga continued to apply pressure in the third set and eventually closed out his Canadian opponent in convincing fashion.
“It was a bit strange from them (Canada) but if Milos is not good it was better for him to stay on the bench,” Tsonga said, knowing that his job remained the same regardless of the opponent.
“When you go on the court you give everything and that’s what I tried to do. I was very strong and I played good tennis so it was a good moment for me and I’m just happy to go through for my team. Davis Cup is a special competition.”
Tsonga won both of his singles matches this weekend in straight sets, defeating Vasek Pospisil 61 63 63 in the opening match of the tie on Friday.
France grabbed a 2-1 lead on Canada with a win in Saturday’s doubles match when Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau defeated Raonic and veteran Daniel Nestor 76(1) 76(2) 63.
Prior to this tie, there was concern on the French side due to a knee injury to world No. 13 Gael Monfils, who travelled to Vancouver but was not needed for the live rubbers. In the end, however, it was a knee injury to Canada’s rising star Raonic that prevented him from giving his country the best chance to extend the tie to the fifth and deciding match.
“This whole week I’ve been having a little bit of soreness and yesterday it got a lot worse just before the tiebreaker at the end of the first set and it started to affect the main parts of my game - my serve and my first step,” Raonic said before travelling to San Jose, California to seek further medical evaluation.
“I would have been useless in the singles. I was a big part of the decision to play doubles because I was willing to do whatever we needed to win. Unfortunately you can’t control these things.”
The announcement of Raonic’s injury was disappointing news for the 5,000 fans at the Thunderbird Sports Centre on the campus of the University of British Columbia, who were anticipating a showdown of two of the Top 30 players in the world. The crowd rallied behind Dancevic, but in the end he was simply no match for Tsonga.
France’s reward is a home tie against USA in the World Group quarterfinals. The two nations have a long history of playing each other with the Americans holding a 8-7 advantage in their head-to-head count.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) - 12/02/2012
Milos Raonic (CAN) - 12/02/2012 (press conference)
Captain Guy Forget (FRA) - 12/02/2012
Captain Martin Laurendeau (CAN) - 12/02/2012