PARIS (AP) — Alize Cornet and Kristina Mladenovic beat Belinda Bencic and Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-4 in doubles Sunday to give France a 3-2 win over Switzerland in their first-round tie of the Fed Cup World Group II.
Mladenovic's quick hands at the net made the difference while Bencic's inexperience in doubles showed. "We took a lot of pleasure," Mladenovic told Sport Plus television. "It's extremely difficult to play in such conditions, but our doubles team showed a lot of quality. We complemented each other very well. We had a great time on the court."
Cornet and Mladenovic celebrated their victory with a chest bump while a disappointed Bencic shed tears on her chair. In a first set with five service breaks, the Swiss pair took a 4-1 lead. But Bencic then failed to serve out the set at 5-3 before Bacsinszky sent a forehand wide to drop serve at 5-5. Cornet hit a backhand winner to help France go a set up.
The hosts broke Bencic in the fifth game of the second set but Mladenovic committed three double-faults to drop serve in the next game. Mladenovic made amends by earning the decisive break at 3-3 with a forehand volley and the French pair won the match when Bacsinszky's backhand sailed long.
On April 19-20, France and Switzerland will compete in playoffs. France will try to gain promotion to the World Group while Switzerland will aim to stay in World Group II. Earlier, Cornet beat Bacsinszky 6-2, 7-6 (4) to give France a 2-1 lead before teenager Bencic eased past Virginie Razzano 6-1, 6-1 to bring Switzerland level with France at 2-2.
Cornet won six straight games to rally from a 2-0 deficit and take the first set. The 25th-ranked Frenchwoman broke back twice in the second set before Bacsinszky saved a match point at 5-4. In the tiebreaker, Cornet jumped to a 5-2 lead and clinched victory when Bacsinszky's backhand sailed wide.
"Amelie kept her trust in me today and I'm glad I did not prove her wrong," Cornet said in reference to France captain Amelie Mauresmo. Bencic showed great composure to break Razzano five times in a one-sided rubber.
"I just played with no pressure," Bencic told Sport Plus television. "I just enjoyed the match. I was so relaxed." Bencic took a 4-0 lead and won the first set when Razzano netted a volley. The 16-year-old Swiss capitalized on two forehand errors from Razzano to also break serve at 2-1 and 4-1 in the final set.
Bencic converted her third match point when the 30-year-old Razzano sent a backhand into the net. "I couldn't do anything against her today," Razzano told Sport Plus television. "I think she's an unbelievable player. She plays some dream tennis. Her future is promising."
In Saturday's singles, Razzano dismissed Stefanie Voegele 6-2, 6-1 to put France ahead before Bencic upset Cornet 7-5, 6-4 to even the tie.