The rookie Arthur Rinderknech had to pull off a small feat against Cameron Norrie, to maintain hope.
This year on clay in Lyon, the two men had clashed and the 58th world had offered a good resistance to the 12th by losing only in three sets (6-3, 3-6, 6-3).
Less suspense this Saturday in Innsbruck, even if the second set was tough and contested.
From his second face-off, the Var had to erase two break points. On the next game, it was the Briton who tried to save a break point. And on a winning cross backhand, the winner of Indian Wells managed to take the service of the Frenchman for the first time. Before repeating the sixth game. The Briton, much more solid in the exchange than the 58th world, concluding the first act on an ace (6-2).
Rinderknech was unable to take advantage of a small release from the Briton at the start of the second set by not converting his three break opportunities in the second game. Mistreated by Norrie, the novice tricolor had the merit of erasing three balls and to conclude on an ace in the fifteen-minute-long seventh game, relying on his excellent first ball. Although often transfixed by opposing surgical passes, Rinderknech rushed to the attack and held the shock on his serve to push his opponent to an extremely indecisive and spectacular tie-break, where Rinderknech led 4-1 and s 'is provided two set points including one on his serve. On a forehand attack, the Habs saved a match point at 5-6 and s'is offered a set point on a magnificent serve volley. But he made a bad choice on his set point, playing on his opponent, remained on the right side of the line, while the court was wide open ... Norrie, he was able to conclude on his second match point to win the decisive game (10-8).
A success today against the British would have allowed France to validate its qualification for the quarter-finals.
Unless - a very unlikely scenario - that the Czech Republic dominates Great Britain, it will now be necessary to hope to finish second in Pool C. On Thursday, the Blues started with a difficult 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic.
The winners of the doubles Masters Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert must win in two sets against Jo Salisbury and Neal Skupsky, respectively 3rd and 20th in the classification of the specialty, to hope for a small miracle ...