France squeezes out Sweden in Davis Cup

6th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

STRASBOURG, France, March 6 (AFP) - Hometown hero Paul-Henri Mathieu held his nerve to beat Sweden's Thomas Johansson 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4 and lead France into the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup on Sunday.

STRASBOURG, France, March 6 (AFP) - Hometown hero Paul-Henri Mathieu held his nerve to beat Sweden's Thomas Johansson 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4 and lead France into the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup on Sunday.

The 23-year-old Mathieu, who famously choked in the final against Russia in 2002 where he squandered a two-set lead in the decisive rubber against Mikhail Youzhny, secured a quarter-final place for France in July - against Russia again.

Mathieu had won his opening singles on Friday beating Swedish number one Joachim Johansson, the world number 11, and on Sunday had to dig deep again after squandering two match points in the third set.

The form of Mathieu was in stark contrast to that of Sebastien Grosjean who had earlier Sunday suffered his second setback of the tie losing 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 to Johansson.

"I was marvelling at the quality of Paul-Henri's play," said French skipper Guy Forget. "I hope he will quickly find his way amongst the best players in the world because he is better than his ranking suggests."

Earlier, Johansson had put Sweden back into the tie beating the out of sorts Grosjean to level proceedings 2-2.

"He (Grosjean) was lacking all those little things which makes the difference between a player who is 11th in the world and one who is not playing his best," said Forget.

Doubles pair Arnaud Clement and Mickael Llodra had given France a 2-1 advantage when they ousted Jonas Bjorkman and Simon Aspelin of Sweden in Saturday's doubles.

Clement and Llodra were surprise 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4 winners against Bjorkman, ranked number one in the world in doubles, and Aspelin, also a doubles specialist.

Nine-time champions France last won the Davis Cup in 2001.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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