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France on their way to Davis Cup success.

FRANCE took a giant stride towards their ninth Davis Cup victory after Cedric Pioline and Fabrice Santoro completed a four set win over Australia's Lleyton Hewitt and Pat Rafter.

The decision of Aussie coach John Fitzgerald to change his original doubles pairing of Todd Woodbridge and Wayne Arthurs just an hour before the start of the match has most certainly backfired.

Not only do France need to win just one of tomorrow's reverse singles but they go into the final day with two fresh players in Sebastien Grosjean and Nicolas Escude.

Injury-plagued Rafter, in particular, will have to draw on all his reserve to go out and defeat Escude, who gave France the perfect start to the tie by beating world number one Hewitt on Friday.

The doubles started well for Australia with two breaks of the Pioline serve as they wrapped up the first set in 34 minutes.

But the experienced French duo began to find their range and duly levelled by breaking the Rafter delivery.

Australia wasted two set points at 54 in the third set and then a 5-4 lead in the tie-break as France edged in front.

Hewitt and Rafter seemed to tire in the final set as the French rattled through to take it in double-quick time for the loss of just one game.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 1, 2001
Words:219
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