Dominant Tsonga levels for France in final

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga demolished Steve Darcis 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 to bring France level at 1-1 with Belgium after the first day of the Davis Cup final in Lille.

The French No.1 wasted several early break chances before finding his stride on the indoor hardcourt of the Pierre Mauroy stadium after in-form David Goffin had given the visitors a 1-0 lead by beating Lucas Pouille 7-5, 6-3, 6-1.

Tsonga, whose victory saw him launch a dozen aces, breaking Darcis six times and firing 20 winners, said: “It was tough on court, but today I did my job, we are level. I’m satisfied to get one point.

“This is too early for any celebration, we must stay focused. Our goal is to win the title.”

Earlier, Goffin was never in trouble as he gave the visitors a lead by crushing Pouille in straight sets.

The world No.7, high on self-confidence since he finished runner-up at the ATP Finals in London last weekend, played the key points better at the end of the first set and never looked back as he wrapped up a 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 victory.

Nine-time champions France have not won the Davis Cup since 2001, losing three finals since then, while Belgium, runners-up in 2015, have never claimed the title.

Pouille had won his previous three encounters with Goffin, all played last year, but the Belgian was the more confident and composed player.

The Frenchman whipped several forehand winners but was kept in check by Goffin as both players held comfortably.

Pouille was two points from the set at 5-4, 30-30, but his opponent served two consecutive aces.

Goffin had the first break point in the following game, converting it when Pouille’s sliced backhand went into the net.

The Belgian then won his service game to love, clinching the set with a service winner.

Goffin took an early break in the second when the Frenchman double faulted and he bagged the second set as Pouille made yet another unforced error.

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

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