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Page last updated at 21:22 GMT, Friday, 17 September 2010 22:22 UK

Gael Monfils gives France Davis Cup lead over Argentina

Gael Monfils
Monfils reached the quarter-finals at the US Open last week

Gael Monfils gave France a commanding 2-0 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup semi-finals with an impressive four-set defeat of David Nalbandian.

Monfils won 6-2 2-6 6-4 6-3 in Lyon after team-mate Michael Llodra earlier beat Juan Monaco 7-5 4-6 7-5 6-3.

Serbia ended day one against the Czech Republic at 1-1 despite losing Novak Djokovic to gastroenteritis.

Radek Stepanek beat replacement Viktor Troicki, but Janko Tipsarevic saw off Tomas Berdych 7-5 6-2 2-6 7-5 (7-5).

"The opening day has shown that Serbia is still a good team even if Djokovic has to take a day off, while we are one of the best teams in the world with him," said Tipsarevic.

World number two Djokovic, beaten by Rafael Nadal in the delayed US Open final on Monday, was courtside to support his team-mates.

"I decided to keep my strength for the last two days," he said. "I might play the doubles on Saturday, but I will surely be ready for Sunday."

Stepanek said: "I heard that Djokovic wasn't going to play about three hours before the start.


"But it's not our problem, you have to be ready whoever is on the other side of the net."

France captain Guy Forget took the bold decision to leave out Richard Gasquet on the opening day in Lyon, presumably because of the player's record of seven defeats in seven matches against Nalbandian, and it paid dividends for the home side.

"I am so relieved tonight," said Forget. "I was very worried during the two matches but I (wanted to) go all out and shake them and that's what we did.

"Of course we can still lose this one but we could have lost the first two singles."

Monfils, who lost to Djokovic in the quarter-finals at the US Open, proved too strong for Nalbandian on the indoor carpet and set up the chance for Llodra and Arnaud Clement to win the tie in Saturday's doubles.

Nenad Zimonjic and Novak Djokovic
Djokovic made it to the sidelines to cheer on his team-mates

"I found here what I could not find at the US Open," said Monfils. "When I was 3-0 down in the fourth set, Guy told me not to worry. I could see that Nalbandian was struggling physically."

Nalbandian said: "The key was that he served much better than I did. His attacking game was very precise, much more than mine."

Elsewhere, Switzerland are in danger of slipping out of the elite World Group after falling 2-0 behind on day one of their play-off match in Kazhakstan.

With Roger Federer absent after a busy North American hard-court season, US Open quarter-finalist Stanislas Wawrinka lost 3-6 6-1 6-4 1-6 6-3 to Mikhail Kukushkin - the man he beat in the first round in New York - as the home side took a 2-0 lead in Astana.

The United States, who have dropped out of the World Group only once since it was introduced in 1981, are tied at 1-1 after day one of their tie against Colombia at altitude in Bogota.

Mardy Fish battled to a dramatic 4-6 6-1 6-4 3-6 6-4 win over Alejandro Falla, before Sam Querrey struggled on the clay in a 6-2 6-4 7-5 loss to Santiago Giraldo.

The other play-off matches are Israel v Austria, Germany v South Africa, Sweden v Italy, India v Brazil, Australia v Belgium and Romania v Ecuador.

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see also
Serbia reach first Davis Cup semi
11 Jul 10 |  Tennis
France defeat Spain in Davis Cup
10 Jul 10 |  Tennis
Nadal win seals career Grand Slam
14 Sep 10 |  Tennis
Djokovic stuns Federer at US Open
11 Sep 10 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Tennis

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EuroNews Davis Cup teams prepare for semi-final showdown - 6 hrs ago
Channel NewsAsia Tennis: Djokovic spearheads Serbia's Davis Cup dream - 11 hrs ago
Nine MSN Djokovic to play Stepanek in Davis Cup - 12 hrs ago
AFP via Yahoo! Djokovic spearheads Serbia's Davis Cup dream - 12 hrs ago
Gulf Daily News Djokovic key to Serbian hopes - 13 hrs ago


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