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Saturday, 30 November, 2002, 16:58 GMT
France win epic doubles
Kafelnikov and Safin stretch for a volley
Kafelnikov and Safin must lift themselves on Sunday
F Santoro/N Escude bt Y Kafelnikov/M Safin 6-3 3-6 5-7 6-3 6-4

Fabrice Santoro and Nicolas Escude put France within a point of retaining the Davis Cup by claiming the doubles in front of a raucous Paris crowd.

Umpire Mike Morrissey had to call for quiet again and again as the French came back from two sets to one down and a break down at the start of the fourth set against Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin.

"This is an extraordinary moment, there was so much emotion here," said Santoro.

"We had to play at 150% to win."

Kafelnikov and Safin must now lift themselves for their third game in three days, and both must win if Russia are to claim the Davis Cup for the first time in their history.

Santoro and Escude had the advantage of being fresh having sat out Friday's singles, and they were the quickest out of the blocks.

Kafelnikov was overwhelmed by Sebastien Grosjean on Friday, and he began the match as if he was still shell-shocked.

He lost his first service game to love, and that was enough to give France the first set 6-3.

Safin on the other hand was untouchable on serve, and he carried Russia's hopes until Kafelnikov lifted his game in the second set.

The scene in Paris
The crowd played their part for France

Kafelnikov put away a beautiful low volley to save breakpoint at 1-2, and when the Russians had breakpoint in the next game, it was he who put away the winner to take the advantage.

The single break gave Russia the second set, and though Kafelnikov was again broken at the start of the third, Santoro was broken twice as the French surrendered the set.

Escude was showing signs of discomfort, and after an injury break he returned with a strapping on his injured back.

And he immediately surrendered his serve to put Russia in touching distance of victory.

But the French showed their resilience, and Kafelnikov and Safin, for the first time in the match, were broken to send the match into a fifth set.

Santoro was playing inspired tennis by this stage, and one break was again enough as the French wrapped up an epic comeback by claiming the fifth set 6-4.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Jonathan Overend
"France's agility and serving won through"
France team captain Guy Forget
"It's a big difference being 2-1 up"

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30 Nov 02 | Photo Galleries
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