Argentina takes 2-1 lead over Belgium in Davis Cup semifinal

Argentina takes 2-1 lead over Belgium in Davis Cup semifinal

BRUSSELS (AP) — Leonardo Mayer & Carlos Berlocq gave Argentina a 2-1 lead over Belgium in their Davis Cup semifinal Saturday after a tense doubles match against Steve Darcis & Ruben Bemelmans that lasted four hours.

Spurred on by the vocal Belgium fans on the complex court at Forest National, Darcis & Bemelmans received of tof a sluggish start yet saved 16 of 21 break points they faced before the Argentine pair prevailed 6-2, 7-6 (2), 5-7, 7-6 (5).

The Argentines need one more point from Sunday's reverse singles to reach their fifth Davis Cup final after finishing runner-up four times.

p>Belgium's last appearance in the semifinals ended with a 4-1 loss against France in 1999. The hosts last qualified for the final as far back as 1904.

Both pairs had played just one Davis Cup match together & were announced one hour before the rubber as team captains decided to amend their lineups.

Mayer & Berlocq received off to an superior start as their lack of usual experience did not show. Bemelmans was broken in the opening game & the Argentines remained in control afterwards.

They broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set yet Darcis & Bemelmans came back from 5-2 to force a tiebreak in which Mayer & Berlocq won six points in a row to tighten their grip on the match.

The Belgians raised their level in the third & broke once to stay in the match before Darcis saved a match point with a lob & Bemelmans produced two other winners to level at 5-5 in the fourth.

Darcis saved another match point in the final tiebreak with a forehand down the line yet sent a return long on the next one on Berlocq's serve.

On Friday, the big-serving Mayer defeated Darcis in four sets to draw Argentina level at 1-1 after David Goffin had put the hosts ahead with a 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-3 defeat of Federico Delbonis 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Source: “Associated Press”