Pouille beats racket-throwing Fognini to seal tie

by: AP | April 08, 2018

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Lucas Pouille defeated Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-3, sending France to the Davis Cup semifinals (Getty Images)

GENOA, Italy (AP) — Lucas Pouille kept his focus when Italy's Fabio Fognini began throwing his racket in frustration during a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory that put France into the Davis Cup semifinals on Sunday.

Defending champion France took an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five series with Italy.

Fognini threw his racket twice upon failing to take advantage of opportunities late in the third set.

On the first occasion, Fognini slammed his racket on the red clay court, then broke it clean in half across his knee.

A couple of points later, after Pouille saved three set points to even the set at 5-5, Fognini threw his racket into a courtside chair in the vicinity of a ball boy.

"There is always pressure on Davis Cup," the 11th-ranked Pouille said. "You want to do well for your friends, family, fans and all the team and that's why it leaves this spicy taste in the Davis Cup."

In the fourth set, France captain Yannick Noah protested to the chair umpire when the crowd attempted to bother Pouille while he served.

That prompted the umpire to make an announcement urging silence and sportsmanship.

Match point: 

"The fans were incredible," Pouille said. "They were fair and they were just noisy for us."

Pouille served well under pressure, hitting seven aces overall to Fognini's two. The Frenchman also committed only 16 unforced errors to Fognini's 28.

"I think I was more consistent over the match," Pouille said. "I had a tough first set but I kept trying and was playing better and better and it was a great effort to come back and win this one."

It's the third straight year that France has reached the semifinals.

"I'm sure we are going to have some good wine," Noah said of his team's celebration plans.

France will next meet Spain, which defeated Germany 3-2.

"I had a lot of chances against a great player," Fognini said. "If this is my level of tennis I'm not worried about the future."

The fifth singles match between Italy's Andreas Seppi and France's Jeremy Chardy was not played.

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