The semifinal clash between France and Netherlands came down to the fifth and final doubles rubber. The French pair of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic faced the Dutch duo of Kiki Bertens and Richel Hogenkamp with both teams gunning for a place in the Fed Cup finals.
The more prolific French pairing were stunned though as the Dutch took the first set. A fight back was on as the French team came roaring back to take the second set. With the crowd spurring them on, the home team gave it their all, eventually clinching the win 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to book their place in the finals.
Dutch duo comeback to take the first set
The French with Garcia started proceedings holding the first game with ease. She then followed it up with great placement at the net earning break point for France. Bertens unleashed an ace to snuff out the chance. The Dutch though were in trouble again as a stray forehand from Bertens gave the French pair another opportunity to break and an uncharacteristic double fault handed the France a 2-0 lead. The French duo consolidated the break to extend their lead to 3-0.
However, the Dutch came storming back winning three games in a row, finding the break back in the process to level the set 3-3. Mladenovic stopped the run of games and put France ahead 4-3. The French had for themselves a couple of break point in the following game. The Dutch though, dug out an important hold to even the set. And Bertens followed up with a lob winner for break point of their own. Garcia under pressure found the net instead and handed the lead to the Dutch. The Dutch duo went on to wrap up the set 6-4.
French pair just managed to edge the second set
The second set was a very close affair. Pressure seemed to creep up on Mladenovic who was serving to keep advantage with the match proceeding on serve. She was comfortably 40-0 up in the seventh game but gave away points to allow the Dutch break point. The French overcame a heart stopping moment when the Dutch believed they had won that game but the umpire was quick to point out the shot was in. The French duo eventually winning that clutch game for 4-3.
A thunderous forehand from Mladenovic now gave the French break point. Garcia followed it up with a thumping return winner to go 5-3 up. The crowd and the French duo were now totally in the zone and well fired up. And they made no mistake clinching the second set with some amazing shots to force a decider.
French hung on to their early break and cross the finish line
The deciding set started with serve for both teams. It was the French who drew first blood to take the lead for 2-1. The Dutch weren’t going away though as they created three break back points for themselves. Mladenovic though remained calm and saved all three of them. The Dutch duo kept knocking on the doors. They had six break points in that titanic game but Mladenovic was adamant to keep serve which she did under enormous pressure to maintain the lead.
The match was reaching its climax as both team continued holding their serve. With the score at 3-5, the Dutch had to hold to keep themselves in the set. The French pair though could do nothing wrong earning triple match points and closed out the victory in emphatic style.