Davis Cup final: Belgium and France level after opening day

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Steve Darcis in the second singles rubber to draw France level with Belgium on the first day of the Davis Cup final in Lille.

World number 15 Tsonga, 32, was too powerful for 76th-ranked Darcis, winning in straight sets 6-3 6-2 6-1.

David Goffin swept aside Lucas Pouille 7-5 6-3 6-1 earlier in the day to give Belgium the opening point.

Nine-time winners France are looking to claim their first Davis Cup since 2001 while Belgium have never won it.

The hosts have lost three finals since their win 16 years ago while the closest Belgium have come to success was when they were beaten in the 2015 final by Great Britain.

Frenchmen Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert are expected to play Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans and Joris de Loore in Saturday’s doubles.

Team captains have until one hour before the start of the match to change their line-up.

In front of over 25,000 fans inside the Stade Pierre Mauroy, Goffin sealed the first point of the final by recording his first win over 18th-ranked Pouille.

The 26-year-old – the runner-up at the ATP Finals last weekend – made the telling break in the 11th game then served out to love to take the opening set.

He then made an early break in the second when the Frenchman double faulted to put him on the way to a two-set lead.

Another quick break put Goffin in the driving seat in the third set and the Belgian raced to victory on his first match point.

French number one Tsonga wasted several early chances to break before finding his stride on the indoor hardcourt to see off Darcis and bring his country level in the tie.