On Friday, Borna Coric beat Jeremy Chardy and Marin Cilic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, giving Croatia a 2-0 lead in the tie and a chance to clinch the title in Saturday’s doubles rubber.
Today, Herbert and Mahut looked to be cruising to a straight-set victory, originally leading 6-4, 6-4, 3-1, but Dodig and Pavic fought back, winning five games in a row to sneak out the third set. The Croats then earned three break points in the French duo’s opening service game of the fourth set.
But Herbert and Mahut fought all of those break points off and held to get back on track, eventually earning their first match points with the Croatian team serving at 4-5, 0-40. After missing out on those three chances, France finally closed it out in a tie-break, winning in three hours and 38 minutes, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3).
"We still have two more matches to win, we want to win the Davis Cup," Mahut told the AP. "Our players can do it tomorrow. They had a tough day yesterday but maybe with this win everything can change."
Herbert and Mahut are one of the most accomplished doubles teams in the world, having won three Grand Slam doubles titles together: the 2015 US Open, 2016 Wimbledon and this year's French Open. Mahut is a former No.1 in doubles, while Herbert has been as high as No.2.
On Sunday, the first reverse singles rubber will pit Cilic against Chardy, barring substitutions. Most notably, Lucas Pouille is available for Yannick Noah's French side. Cilic is ranked 33 spots higher than Chardy—No. 7 to No. 40—but Chardy has won two of their five previous meetings. The veteran Frenchman also owns 11 career Top 10 wins.
If Chardy (or Pouille) pulls off the upset, the second reverse singles rubber will pit Coric against Tsonga (or Pouille). Tsonga—who Noah said was "slightly injured"—won his only previous meeting against Coric, but that was more than three years ago, in Canada in 2015.
"After what happened yesterday of course we are confident," Croatia captain Zeljko Krajan told the AP. "Marin and Borna are going to be ready. Hopefully quality will prevail in the end."
Only once in Davis Cup history has a team come back from 0-2 down to win the final—all the way back in 1939, when Australia did it against the United States in a Challenge Round Final.
Croatia has won the Davis Cup title once before, in 2005; France, the defending champion, has won it 10 times (1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2017).