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Davis Cup: Titleholder France even against the Netherlands

February 2, 2018

ALBERTVILLE, France (AP) — Richard Gasquet leveled the score for defending champion France by defeating Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-4, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-5 in the first round of the Davis Cup World Group on Friday.

Earlier, Adrian Mannarino was upset by a player more than 300 places below him in the rankings. Thiemo de Bakker, ranked 369th, beat Mannarino 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3.

“It’s also tough to play when you’re 1-0 down. It was a fast surface and he serves well,” Gasquet said. “He was playing better than me in the fourth set and I had to hold on.”

Gasquet had beaten Haase in six of their previous seven matches. He broke the 42nd-ranked Dutchman in the ninth game for 5-4 and clinched the first set on serve.

Haase started to find his range in the third set, and the fourth was evenly poised until Gasquet got a crucial break in the 11th game for 6-5.

Haase had two chances to break Gasquet’s serve at 40-15 in the following game, but the Frenchman saved them both and eventually sealed the victory with his 15th ace of the match.

“We were expecting a difficult contest,” France captain Yannick Noah said. “Richard was solid (but) it could have gone either way.”

Mannarino was a late replacement for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who withdrew with a knee injury shortly before the draw on Thursday.

Lucas Pouille was due to play the opening rubber but he pulled out on Friday morning with a neck problem.

Mannarino had a 4-2 lead in the tiebreaker but De Bakker took the next five points and the opening set.

“Adrian had the match in hand and it got away from him,” said Noah, who is standing down as captain after this competition.

Just as he had done in the first set, De Bakker broke in the opening game of the second and although Mannarino had a couple of holds to love, the Frenchman ended the set as he started it — with a double fault.

De Bakker raced to 3-0 in the third set, including breaking Mannarino to love, and also won his final two service games to love.

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