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TENNIS

Defending champs France up 2-1 over Italy in Davis Cup

In Genoa, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert put defending champions France 2-1 up against Italy with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 win over Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli.

Defending champs France up 2-1 over Italy in Davis Cup
France's Nicolas Mahut (L) and Pierre-Hugues Herbert celebrate a point against Italy's Fabio Fognini and Italy's Simone Bolelli during the Davis Cup quarter-final doubles tennis match on Saturday. PHO
It took two-time major winners Mahut and Herbert just 1 hour 54 minutes to take revenge for a loss to the Italian duo in the 2015 Australian Open final.
 
Lucas Pouille, the world number 11, will have the chance to clinch a semi-final spot for France for the third time in four years when he faces Fognini in the first of Sunday's reverse singles.
 
“Pierre-Hugues and Nico played the perfect match,” said France captain Yannick Noah. “Now we are going to prepare Lucas to beat Fabio — we will give 150 percent for this match.”
 
The winner of the tie will face either Spain or Germany for a place in the final.
 
Croatia, the 2005 champions, are also one win away from the last-four after Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic defeated the Kazakh pair of Timur Khabibulin and Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
 
“We played together for the first time and that's why we needed some time to find our game,” said Dodig.
 
On Sunday, world number three and former US Open champion Marin Cilic can wrap up the tie when he faces Mikhail Kukushkin, the world 92 in the first of the reverse singles.
 
Kukushkin stunned world number 28 Borna Coric in Friday's singles.
 
In Nashville, the United States became the first country to punch their ticket to the Davis Cup semi-finals on Saturday following a doubles win by Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison.
 
The pair had to work for the victory on the hardcourts which gave the Americans an insurmountable 3-0 lead and a berth in the semis for the first time since 2012.
 
Sock and Harrison needed three hours to dispatch Belgian debutants Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen in four sets 5-7, 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 in front of a crowd of 5,000 at the Curb Event Center.
 
John Isner and Sam Querrey lifted the United States into a 2-0 lead over last year's runners-up Belgium on Friday.
 
Isner needed three hours and 14 minutes to dispose of world number 319 Joris de Loore 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (10/8), 6-4, while world number 14 Querrey beat 110th ranked Ruben Bemelmans 6-1, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5.

SPORT

Serena Williams pulls out of Italian Open in Rome

Former world number one Serena Williams has pulled out of next week's Italian Open in Rome, organizers confirmed on Wednesday.

Serena Williams pulls out of Italian Open in Rome
Serena Williams winning her last Italian Open in 2016. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Last week the 23-time Grand Slam winner pulled out of the Madrid WTA event due to a fever.

The American tennis star made her comeback in February, six months after giving birth to baby Olympia, when she competed at Indian Wells and Miami, but has admitted she is struggling to get fully fit.

A statement on the tournament's Twitter feed read:

Williams has won the Rome title four times in 2002, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

Rome was also the city where she met her husband Alexis Ohanian, and also the city where he proposed.


Serena Williams celebrates her first Italian Open title in 2002. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

Williams, 36, will now be a doubt for the French Open in Paris from May 27th to June 10th. She has won the title three times, most recently in 2015.

She won the Australian Open while pregnant and returned in February alongside her sister Venus in a US Fed Cup first-round tie. She lost to Venus in the third round at Indian Wells and to Japan's Naomi Osaka at Miami.

If she were to make her Grand Slam comeback at Roland Garros, it would be without having played a match on clay since 2016. 

READ ALSO: Ten marvellously fun things to do in Italy this May



Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP