Tennis: Czechs, France tied in Davis Cup after day one

Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic serves the ball to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France during the Davis Cup quarter-final.
Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic serves the ball to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France during the Davis Cup quarter-final.PHOTO: AFP

PRAGUE (AFP) - The Czech Republic and France were tied 1-1 after the opening rubbers of their Davis Cup World Group quarter-final on Friday as both number-two players beat the team leaders.

World number 78 Lukas Rosol first stunned 10th-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4 in three hours and 52 minutes.

Lucas Pouille, ranked 21st, then swept 50th-ranked Jiri Vesely 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and 24 minutes.

The tie started with a minute's silence for the victims of Thursday's terror attack in Nice that left at least 84 dead including ten children or youths.

On the hardcourt of the Werk Arena in the eastern Czech town of Trinec, the big-serving, 30-year-old Rosol got off to an impressive start against Tsonga, taking the first set on a single break.

But Tsonga, who is 31, regained his first serve in the second set and took a 2-1 lead with a break in each set.

Both held on to their serve in set four, with Rosol taking it in a thrilling tie-break after escaping from two match points.

Rosol and Tsonga traded breaks in the first two games of set five but the Czech then added another and converted his third match point.

"I have no words for what happened on the court today," Rosol told the Czech Television after the game.

"It's a fantastic feeling to play as number two against a number one and win in five sets." Tsonga blamed his defeat on poor serving.

"I didn't serve too well but I gave it what I could. Lukas played a great game," he said.

"We got up and learnt what had happened (in Nice). It's not easy to play when such things happen but at the same time it was important for us to go to the court and give our best." In the second rubber, French young gun Pouille had few problems with Vesely who piled up 34 unforced errors in the three sets.

"I didn't play well, I'm sorry, I didn't find my rhythm, my composure," said Vesely.

"The rubber was all about mistakes that I can't afford to make at this level." In Saturday's doubles rubber, veteran Radek Stepanek and Adam Pavlasek are due to face fresh Wimbledon champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

In Sunday's reverse singles, Vesely will face Tsonga before Rosol takes on Pouille.

The Czech Republic won the Davis Cup in 2012 and 2013, while France last lifted the trophy in 2001.

The winner of the tie will face either the United States or Croatia in the semi-finals.