ROUEN, France — France advanced to the Davis Cup semifinals after veterans Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut won a tight doubles to beat Britain 3-0 Saturday.
Benneteau and Mahut edged Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray 7-6 (7), 5-7, 7-5, 7-5.
France faces Serbia in September.
“It’s really incredible, it gives you goosebumps,” Benneteau said. “Whether you’ve won 15 Grand Slams or none, playing in front of your country like this is incredible. It’s magical, fabulous.”
Mahut ran into the arms of captain Yannick Noah, whose selections were questioned before the match. But Noah’s decision to pick Chardy ahead of the much higher ranked Gilles Simon and pair late-thirtysomethings Mahut and Benneteau paid off.
“Magnifique, magnifique!” Noah shouted as he hugged the players, and the national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” rang out.
France has not won the competition since 2001.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray, who led Britain to Davis Cup victory in 2015, did not play this time because of an elbow injury and his absence was keenly felt.
In Belgrade, Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic defeated Pablo Carreno-Busta and Marc Lopez 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 to seal victory.
Novak Djokovic and Troicki had won Friday’s singles for a 2-0 lead before the 2010 champions took an unassailable advantage on Saturday against a Spanish team missing 14-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal who opted to sit out the tie.
Italy stays alive
Italy demonstrated the fighting spirit which saw it knock out defending champion Argentina in the first round to stay alive against Belgium with a thrilling doubles win.
Andreas Seppi and Simone Bolelli saved a match point to see off Ruben Bemelmans and Joris De Loore 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6) to go into Sunday’s last day trailing 2-1.
Belgium, the runner-up in 2015, took a 2-0 lead Friday when Steve Darcis and David Goffin claimed the opening singles rubbers.
In Sunday’s reverse singles, Goffin will face Paolo Lorenzi while Darcis takes on Seppi.
The winner of the tie will face either Australia or the United States in September’s semifinals.
US keeps Davis Cup tie alive
US pair Steve Johnson and Jack Sock kept the quarterfinal against Australia alive with a gritty five-set win over John Peers and Sam Groth in Brisbane.
After losing both singles rubbers Friday, the US needed to win the doubles to give itself some hope heading into Sunday’s reverse singles.
And the American duo made sure the US would live to fight another day when they outlasted the Australian pair 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
New Zealand goes 2-1 up
New Zealand took a 2-1 lead over South Korea after winning the doubles in their Asia/Oceania Group I tie in Auckland Saturday.
Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak fought back after dropping the second set to beat Chung Hong and Lee Jea Moon 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4).
India sweeps Uzbekistan
India’s Rohan Bopanna and N. Sriram Balaji thrashed Uzbekistan’s Farrukh Dustov and Sanjar Fayziev Saturday to give their side an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the second round of the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie.
The Indian pair hardly broke a sweat against their lower-ranked rivals, cruising to a 6-2 6-4 6-1 win in the doubles match in Bangalore that lasted one hour and 23 minutes.