Aussies in epic Davis Cup victory as Frances Tiafoe caught in 'horrible' controversy

Australia bounced back with a 2-1 victory over France, but the Americans went down to Netherlands in ugly scenes.

Frances Tiafoe, pictured here alongside the Aussies in the Davis Cup.
Australia beat France in the Davis Cup, while Frances Tiafoe lost on a point penalty. Image: Getty/Tennis TV

Australia have secured a vital 2-1 victory over France on a day of drama at the Davis Cup in which Frances Tiafoe lost a match on a point penalty. The Aussies fought their way back from the brink of elimination after Max Purcell went down to Adrian Mannarino in the opening singles rubber.

Alex de Minaur then prevailed in his must-win clash with Ugo Humbert, before doubles maestros Purcell and Matt Ebden won for the second day running in a crucial final rubber. After their first-up loss to Great Britain, Purcell's defeat in the singles had the Aussies staring at an embarrassing exit in the group stage.

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But de Minaur's win, coupled by another victory for Purcell and Ebden in the doubles, gave Australia a 2-1 victory and kept their hopes of advancing alive. The Aussie doubles specialists outclassed French veterans Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-5 6-3, throwing the four-team Group B wide open.

Only the top two teams will qualify for the finals in Spain in November. Australia, Britain, and France all have one win each, with Lleyton Hewitt's team still in a strong position if they can beat Switzerland, who lost their opening match 3-0 to the French.

Matt Ebden, Max Purcell and Lleyton Hewitt.
Matt Ebden and Max Purcell celebrate with Lleyton Hewitt after Australia's Davis Cup win over France. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)

Frances Tiafoe loses on controversial point penalty

Meanwhile, there was high drama in the USA's clash with Netherlands, as Tiafoe was beaten for the second day running and the Americans lost 2-1. Tallon Griekspoor defeated Tiafoe 6-3 6-7 7-6 to secure the Netherlands the victory in Group D in Split, after Botic van de Zandschulp beat Tommy Paul 7-6 6-2 in the opening singles match.

Tiafoe, who had lost to Croatian Borna Gojo on Wednesday in a tie the Americans won 2-1, melted down in ugly scenes after a controversial umpiring call went against him in the third set tiebreak. With Griekspoor up 5-2, a line judge called his first serve out and Tiafoe hit the subsequent return into the net.

A Hawkeye challenge from Griekspoor showed the serve was actually good, so the chair umpire awarded the point to the Netherlands. That call incensed Tiafoe, who thought the point should have been replayed because the out call came before he hit the ball into the net.

The American remonstrated with the chair umpire and tournament supervisor, but his protests fell on deaf ears. In response he walked to the middle of the court and demolished his racquet, earning himself a code violation.

Because it was his second code violation of the match he was hit with a point penalty, giving Griekspoor the seventh point of the tiebreak and the win. Tennis fans and commentators were heavily divided over the ugly scenes, with some suggesting Tiafoe was right to be angry, and others condemning his behaviour.

Aussies stay alive in Davis Cup from brink of elimination

In Australia's tie, Hewitt's men showed the grit and determination that he frequently displayed on the court during his career. "Alex went out there and knew he had to get the job done and he was a soldier," said Ebden. "We were then just grateful to have a chance to save the day in a super important one, a must-win one.

"We were super confident together, we believe in ourselves incredibly and we believe in this team, its fighting spirit. We came close last year and we want to do better this year. We had to fight our guts out to keep that chance alive and we have to do it again on Saturday (against Switzerland)."

De Minaur felt he'd redeemed himself after his sub-par loss to Dan Evans on Wednesday as he beat Humbert 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 for his eighth win in his last 10 Davis Cup singles rubbers. "A bit of redemption for sure," said de Minaur. "If I lost today, we were out.

"I haven't had too many days like yesterday, I normally deliver when I put in the green and gold. I didn't do anything extraordinary - the only thing I did was keep us alive."

Hewitt said: "Alex, bloody impressive again today. To come from one down, he's done it plenty of times but that match was really high quality, and then the boys played a great doubles."

with AAP

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