France kicked off their quest for an 11th Davis Cup on Thursday night with a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in Innsbruck.
The opening singles match for the men’s national team ended badly for the French.
Richard Gasquet, the 35-year-old top 10 player, lost the game to 21-year-old Tomas Machac.
The world number 121 upended the form book to beat the veteran 7-6, 6-2.
Adrian Mannarino equalized France after beating Jiri Veseley 6-7, 6-4, 6-2.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, winners of the 2021 end-of-season championships for doubles teams, then came out for the decisive match against the little-known pair Zdenek Kolar and Jiri Lehecka.
The Czechs claimed Herbert’s serve to take a 4-2 lead and concluded the opening set 6-3 after 37 minutes.
The French pair wasted four break points in their eighth game as the Czech duo dug deep to reach level 4-4.
But they took advantage of Lehecka’s serve play to win the second set 6-4 and tie the game after 86 minutes.
Mahut and Herbert took a 3-1 lead in the decider and held onto their advantage to win the set 6-3 and the game after two hours and five minutes.
“It was pretty slow conditions and it took us a while to adjust,” Herbert said after the game.
Sébastien Grosjean, the skipper of the France team, added: “It was a long and difficult night. The Czechs played well in all three matches. I am proud of my players because we have had difficult times but they have succeeded.”
On Saturday, France can reserve its place in the quarter-finals of Group C with a victory over Great Britain.
In Group B Thursday in Madrid, Sweden beat Canada 3-0 and in Group D in Turin, 2018 champions Croatia opened their account with a 3-0 loss to Australia.
Originally posted on RFI