Paris: Australia edged closer to a first Davis Cup final in 14 years on Saturday when Jordan Thompson and John Peers swept past Arthur De Greef and Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 for a 2-1 lead in their semi-final in Brussels.
Australia, the 28-time champions, look likely to face nine-time winners France who are 2-1 up on Serbia in Lille thanks to Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert clinching a 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) win over Nenad Zimonjic and Filip Krajinovic.
Lleyton Hewitt’s Australia last won the Davis Cup in 2003 when they beat Spain in the final.
“We had a job to do today and we came out and did it from start to finish. Playing with Thommo and in front of this crowd and perform the way we did is just incredible,” said Peers.
Nick Kyrgios can wrap up the tie for Australia on Sunday when he takes on fellow national number one David Goffin in the first of the reverse singles.
Kyrgios defeated Steve Darcis 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2 on Friday while Goffin saw off John Millman 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.
In Lille, Mahut and Herbert needed less than two hours to see off Serbia’s 41-year-old playing captain Zimonjic and Krajinovic.
That Yannick Noah’s hosts have yet to book their place in the final is down to Dusan Lajovic’s shock 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/5) win in Friday’s opening rubber against Lucas Pouille, although Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had levelled the tie by beating debutant Laslo Djere 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 6-3.
Mahut and Herbert, the 2015 US Open and 2016 Wimbledon champions, came back from 5-2 down in the third set to wrap up the win.
France are bidding for a first Davis Cup title since 2001, having lost three finals since with the most recent a defeat by Roger Federer’s Switzerland in 2014.
Results(After Saturday’s matches)
France 2 Serbia 1
Belgium 1 Australia 2
World Group play-offs
Kazakhstan 2 Argentina 1
Colombia 1 Croatia 1
Switzerland 1 Belarus 2
Netherlands 1 Czech Republic 2
Portugal 1 Germany 1
Japan 2 Brazil 0
Hungary 2 Russia 1
Canada 1 India 1