France fought back from 2-1 down for the first time since 2014 to defeat Hungary at the Tatabanya Arena on Saturday and seal victory in the 2023 Davis Cup Qualifiers.
It was a far from comfortable triumph for Sebastien Grosjean’s team. Nicolas Mahut and Arthur Rinderknech were outplayed by the unheralded doubles duo of Fabian Marozsan and Mate Valkusz in the first match on Saturday, falling 6-2, 7-6(4) as the home team moved 2-1 in front.
With their backs against the wall, the French knew they had to be faultless in the reverse singles if they were to ensure safe passage to September’s Davis Cup Finals Group Stage.
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Grosjean made a tactical change, switching out his No. 1 player Benjamin Bonzi in favour of the lefty Adrian Mannarino to face Hungary’s highest-ranked player Marton Fucsovics, and the decision proved to be a wise one. Mannarino clinched a tight opening set tie-break before racing away with the second set against Fucsovics.
The Frenchman, who didn’t lose a point on his own serve in the second set, said: “Whoever won the first set was going to get a huge advantage. I wasn’t thinking about the score. I was going on court and giving my best and all my team were cheering for me, so it was easy for me to push myself a bit more.”
Ugo Humbert then capped a memorable Davis Cup debut, winning the all-important fifth match 6-3 6-3 against Marozsan – who was forced to return to the court to play singles in place of the injured Zsombor Piros.
“I am so proud of this team,” said Humbert. “Playing in Davis Cup means a lot for me because it’s an unbelievable competition and I’m very proud of myself today. I’m very happy that we’re in the finals.”
This story features contributions from DavisCup.com