Gasquet-Herbert give France 2-1 lead in Davis Cup final

Gasquet and Herbert, playing together for the first time in a competitive match, won a three-hour long marathon 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 to help France go into the final day needing just one win to clinch the trophy.

France's Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert celebrate their victory at Pierre Mauroy Stadium in Lille on Saturday.   -  AFP

France captain Yannick Noah's gamble in pairing Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert together for the first time paid off on Saturday as the duo gave France a 2-1 lead over Belgium in the Davis Cup final.

Gasquet and Herbert defeated Ruben Bemelmans and Joris de Loore 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 to leave the hosts requiring just one point from Sunday's closing two singles.

Belgium's hopes of claiming a first title in the venerable competition now rest with their in-form No. 1 David Goffin denying Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Sunday's opening singles.

If Goffin keeps the tie alive it will then go down to the fifth and closing rubber between Lucas Pouille and Belgium's Davis Cup specialist Steve Darcis.

Pouille lost Friday's opening match to World No. 7 Goffin before Tsonga levelled the match with a comprehensive defeat of Darcis.

Gasquet and Herbert put France, seeking their first title since 2001, in pole position after a gruelling three hours and three minutes on court at Lille's Stade Pierre-Mauroy in front of a deafening 25,000 crowd.

Gasquet and Herbert reeled off the first set in half an hour, before a lacklustre service from Herbert put Belgium 3-1 up in the second set.

Bemelmans, ranked 118th in the world, and the 276th-ranked De Loore duly levelled the encounter, before taking a 4-3 lead in the third set when breaking Gasquet's serve after De Loore drilled a forehand at Herbert's head, leaving him dazed..

But lifted by their home fans Gasquet and Herbert powered back, aided by Bemelmans' loss of form, to take that on a tiebreak before getting the all important break in the fourth set for a potentially decisive win.

France hasn't won a Davis Cup title since 2001.