Ruben Bemelmans and Joris De Loore will rue a multitude of missed opportunities, as the Belgians held advantages in the third and fourth sets and could have taken the rubber with a bit more composure. The set scores were 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4.
The French duo of Gasquet and Herbert entered the third rubber as the favourites, and in front of their home fans in Lille, they quickly asserted their dominance. In no time, the team took a commanding lead in the first set, giving the Belgians just a single game.
Per Eurosport's Catherine Whitaker, things were going to plan for Les Bleus:
Catherine Whitaker @CWhitakerSport
Pierre Hughes Herbert looks born for this moment. He and Gasquet lead Belgium a set to love and are in complete control. #DavisCupFinal20172017-11-25 13:47:16
But the Belgians―who have stood out for their uncanny ability to respond to setbacks all year long―fought back in the second set, relying more on rallies and extending points at every opportunity.
It led to incredible exchanges like this one, which Bemelmans and De Loore frequently dominated:
Davis Cup @DavisCup
What. A. Point. Brilliant stuff in the doubles rubber 🇫🇷🆚🇧🇪 #DavisCupFinal https://t.co/ZbJHin2Yoe2017-11-25 14:16:27
An early break in the second set gave the visitors all of the momentum, and they rode their advantage to the end, tying things up.
They were unable to do the same in the third, securing a key break in the eighth game but suffering a break of their own while serving for the set. A tiebreak followed, and the hosts quickly took a substantial lead and rode their momentum to a 2-1 advantage in sets.
Per the event's official Twitter account, the fans loved it:
Davis Cup @DavisCup
🇫🇷 @richardgasquet1 & @p2hugz take a 2-1 lead! https://t.co/LYITHUBVuP2017-11-25 15:30:54
But once again, the Belgians fought back, starting the fourth set with a break. France broke back, but Belgium continued to play well as they tried to regain the advantage.
Bemelmans and De Loore had several break chances, but instead, the hosts took a major step toward winning the rubber in the seventh game, grabbing an all-important break. An easy hold followed, and Les Bleus served out the contest.
Sunday's rubbers will pit David Goffin against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Steve Darcis against Lucas Pouille. France need just one more win to take this year's Davis Cup crown.