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Saturday, 30 November, 2002, 16:57 GMT
Gamewatch: France v Russia
Final score:

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 Kafelnikov/Safin

Game-by-game updates:

Fifth set

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 Kafelnikov/Safin
Safin and Kafelnikov, who must both play in Sunday's final two matches, are both looking tired now as Escude serves his way to 40-0 and three match points. Victory is secured with an Escude smash.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 5-4 Kafelnikov/Safin
Safin holds serve to 15 but is beginning to look weary and as if the battle is over. However, he comes up with an ace to force France to serve out for the match.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 5-3 Kafelnikov/Safin
Santoro's rich vein of form continues as he torments Kafelnikov by forcing him back to deal with a lob before dragging him back to the net in fruitless pursuit of a dropshot. Escude seals Santoro's love service game with an emphatic interception at the net.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 4-3 Kafelnikov/Safin
Kafelnikov holds serve comfortably to keep Russian hopes alive in the match.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 4-2 Kafelnikov/Safin
Some good serving from Escude and some smart poaching at the net by Santoro thwart the Russians. Kafelnikov blasts a forehand winner to earn a break point but Escude holds his nerve - and his serve.

Nicolas Escude and Fabrice Santoro
France found a second wind

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 3-2 Kafelnikov/Safin
Safin is forced into a wry smile after yet another magical winner from Santoro. But the Russian goes on to secure the game with an ace.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 3-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
Santoro is in inspired mood now and his improvisational skills enable France to hold serve and move further ahead in the deciding set.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 2-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
Kafelnikov comes up with a much-needed solid service game to ensure the Russians get off the mark in the fifth set.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 2-0 Kafelnikov/Safin
Escude holds serve to love, including some excellent French defence at 30-0 to win the best point of the match. Safin shows his frustration when he blasts a forehand long to concede the game.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 1-0 Kafelnikov/Safin
Santoro beats his heart with his fist after producing a brilliant cross-court winner to put Safin in trouble on his serve again. A missed volley from the Russian means he is facing two break points. Both go begging but two volley errors from Kafelnikov give France what could prove to be a crucial break.

There is another pause in proceedings as Escude receives further treatment on his back. The Parisian crowd attempt to rouse their side with a rendition of the French national anthem.

Fourth set: Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 Kafelnikov/Safin
Escude comes up with a confident service game to hold to 15 and level the match at two sets all.

Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov
The Russians lost five games in a row in the fourth set

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 5-3 Kafelnikov/Safin
On the first point of his service game, Kafelnikov slams a volley at Escude, which prompts a few boos and whistles from the partisan crowd. It is Kafelnikov who now seems to be keeping the Russian team together - he holds serve to stop the rot of five losing games.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 5-2 Kafelnikov/Safin
Santoro drops just one point on his serve as Safin, who has been returning superbly up to this point, seems to have lost his touch.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 4-2 Kafelnikov/Safin
For the first time, Safin faces trouble on his serve. He cannot find his first serve and from 15-15, a loose Safin volley followed by a somewhat lucky but quick-thinking defensive block from Santoro leaves Russia at 15-40. Safin saves both break points, pumping his fist in satisfaction in what is becoming a very keenly-fought contest. But the French earn another break point and this time force a volley error from Safin to win their fourth consecutive game.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 3-2 Kafelnikov/Safin
France win the first point on Escude's serve, turning determined defence into attack, which sends the crowd wild with joy. France have the bit between their teeth again and Escude holds to 15.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 2-2 Kafelnikov/Safin
A couple of exciting points seem to rouse both the French pair and the home support and France suddenly have a chance to break back. Kafelnikov dumps a straightforward backhand volley into the net and it is all square again.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 1-2 Kafelnikov/Safin
Santoro steadies the French ship by holding serve to 30 but both he and Escude are looking a little subdued.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 0-2 Kafelnikov/Safin
It is the Russian horns that are blaring around the Bercy stadium as Safin holds serve with ease yet again.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 0-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
It is the Russians who are on top now and Safin slashes a backhand cross-court to give his side an early opportunity for a break. Escude comes up with an ace to save it but another crunching return from Safin earns Russia another break point, which they make full advantage of.

All the players disappear off the court for a bathroom break. Three of them come back and the umpire then announces that Escude is receiving treatment from the trainer. The Frenchman finally returns and puts some strapping support on his back.

Third set: Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-7 Kafelnikov/Safin
Some sensible saving from Kafelnikov takes Russia to 40-0 and three set points. Two loose shots give the French hope but Santoro cannot retrieve Kafelnikov's floated backhand volley and Russa take the third set.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-6 Kafelnikov/Safin
Santoro goes 0-30 down on his serve and Safin comes up with a superb delayed backhand winner down the line to give Russia three break points. Santoro, whose first serve has deserted him, saves the first with a full-stretch smash and then wins the next point but Russia secure the break at the third opportunity.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov lobs Nicolas Escude
Kafelnikov lobs Escude

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-5 Kafelnikov/Safin
More top-notch serving from Safin sees Russia ease onto level terms in the match.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 5-4 Kafelnikov/Safin
Escude has looked the stronger of the French pair on serve up until now but he suffers a few jitters, including a double fault, before holding.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 4-4 Kafelnikov/Safin
Kafelnikov again struggles on his serve and had Escude not snatched at a volley at deuce, France could have moved ahead again. But the Russians recover and level the score.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 4-3 Kafelnikov/Safin
Santoro's serve has looked a little vulnerable throughout the match and the Russian pair force a break point, which they convert despite some rugged defence from France.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 4-2 Kafelnikov/Safin
Safin again proves Russia's rock as he holds serve for the loss of just one point.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 4-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
Escude consolidates the French lead in perfect fashion by holding to love.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 3-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
Umpire Mike Morrissey has to ask the crowd to quieten down as the noise in the Bercy stadium reaches a crescendo in what is a crucial stage of the match. There is some frantic play from both teams before France force the break when Safin nets a defensive volley.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 2-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
Escude performs an acrobatic smash which causes him to sprawl backwards on the clay. He is unhurt and the French pair go on to hold.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 1-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
Once again Safin proves untouchable on his serve as Russia level matters.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 1-0 Kafelnikov/Safin
The crowd are buoyed as Escude puts France ahead in the third set with a comfortable hold of serve.

Second set: Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-6 Kafelnikov/Safin
Safin again stands firm on serve and levels the match with Russia's first set point.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 3-5 Kafelnikov/Safin
Santoro holds serve and the French pair must now hope for a breakthrough on the hitherto impregnable Safin serve.

The atmosphere at the Bercy stadium is electric
The atmosphere at the Bercy stadium is electric

Santoro/Escude 6-3 2-5 Kafelnikov/Safin
Kafelnikov seems to have settled into the match now and produces a confident service game to hold to love.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 2-4 Kafelnikov/Safin
Two loose shots from Escude give Russia another break point. The Frenchman comes up with a couple of good first serves to rescue the situation and then has to fight his way out of trouble to save another before securing the game for France.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 1-4 Kafelnikov/Safin
Russia are right back into the match now as Safin holds comfortably, dropping only the second and third points against his serve in the match so far.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 1-3 Kafelnikov/Safin
The crowd becomes slightly subdued as the French pair face their first moment of pressure. A double fault from Santoro makes it 30-40 but Kafelnikov's fierce return is the tape's width away from being a game-winner. However, the Russians get another chance and after an amazing close-quarters rally, Kafelnikov finally slams home a winner to secure the break.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 1-2 Kafelnikov/Safin
Again Kafenlikov struggles and he has to save another break point. But he comes up with a beautiful low forehand volley winner to hold.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 1-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
Santoro replies for France with a solid service game.

Santoro/Escude 6-3 0-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
Despite his partner's inadequacies, Safin is playing excellently and holds serve with ease.

First set: Santoro/Escude 6-3 Kafelnikov/Safin
Escude races to 40-0 to give France three set points. Kafelnikov saves one with a full-stretch cross-court passing return and then Escude elects to leave Safin's high return wich drops in. The tension mounts as some excellent defence from Safin forces the volley error from Santoro. Another exciting rally follows before the French pair earn another set point and an emphatic smash from Santoro gives them first blood.

Kafelnikov struggled in the opening set
Kafelnikov struggled in the opening set

Santoro/Escude 5-3 Kafelnikov/Safin
Kafelnikov's problems continue as he loses the first two points on his serve. But he finally wins a point on his serve and then also takes the next three to force France to serve out for the set.

Santoro/Escude 5-2 Kafelnikov/Safin
Safin comes up with some inspired returns but they are not enough to prevent Santoro holding serve and moving France to within a game of the first set.

Santoro/Escude 4-2 Kafelnikov/Safin
Safin is much the stronger link in the Russian team and he drops just one point as he confidently holds serve.

Santoro/Escude 4-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
The noise in the arena is deafening as Escude survives a minor scare to hold serve. Russia take France to 30-30 and deuce but Escude secures the game with an ace.

Santoro/Escude 3-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
France strike first as Kafelnikov is broken to love. Santoro follows up Escude's mishit winner with a superb backhand down the line to leave Kafelnikov at 0-40. The Russian's serve looks shaky, a fact proven when he then double-faults.

Santoro/Escude 2-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
Fabrice Santoro emulates his partner with a comfortable hold of serve. Russia do manage to pick up a point with a dipping backhand return from Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Santoro/Escude 1-1 Kafelnikov/Safin
Marat Safin serves first for the Russians who race to a 40-0 lead before Safin's tricky half-volley spins wide for the first point against serve in the match. But the Russians level the score by winning the next point.

Santoro/Escude 1-0 Kafelnikov/Safin
Nicolas Escude is the first to serve and the first point is a classic ping-pong doubles rally which the French pair eventually win. Escude delights an already pumped-up French crowd by winning the first game to love.

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