NANCY, France (AP) - Peter Gojowczyk marked his Davis Cup debut with a big upset, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a five-set marathon Friday to give injury-hit Germany a surprising 2-0 lead over France in their Davis Cup quarterfinal.
Gojowczyk won 5-7, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 7-6 (8), 8-6 after Tobias Kamke had defeated Julien Benneteau 7-6 (8), 6-3, 6-2.
“It is incredible, that was unexpected. To feel the spirit and atmosphere of the place is great,” Germany captain Carsten Arriens said. “He was playing against Tsonga so you can’t expect him to win, but he stayed in the match.”
Doubles is scheduled for Saturday with reverse singles to follow on Sunday, and France needs a huge improvement if it is to earn a seventh straight win over a Germany team without all of its best players - Tommy Haas, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer.
“It’s hard to take but of course but there is still hope. Of course we were heavy favorites and suddenly we find ourselves 2-0 down,” France coach Arnaud Clement said. “Everything is possible. We will start by trying to win the doubles.”
Tsonga wasted two match points in the fourth set and saved two of his own with aces at 5-4 down in the fifth. But Gojowczyk clinched the victory when Tsonga’s forehand hit the net.
The 12th-ranked Tsonga was a big favorite against the 119th-ranked Peter Gojowczyk in their first meeting. Tsonga was rescued by his serve, hitting 36 aces, but missed an easy volley at the net on his first match point.
Earlier, Benneteau wasted five set points in the first set, having led 4-0.
Playing without nerves, Gojowczyk appeared to struggle with stiffness in his left leg early in the fifth set, but had already taken a medical timeout and was warned by the chair umpire for taking too long between points. He then jogged off to the dressing room at the changeover as Arriens spoke to the umpire.
Clearly impeded in his movement, he went for big winners from the back of the court, yet still managed to save two break points and held for 3-2 before receiving some treatment as an ice pack was rubbed against the back of his left thigh.
Tsonga missed another chance to break in the 13th game and Gojowczyk made the most of another reprieve.
Benneteau was only playing singles because Richard Gasquet - France’s highest-ranked player at No. 11 - was out with a lower back injury.
Benneteau, ranked 50th, had won all previous meetings against the 96th-ranked Kamke. But he could not take his chances, wasting two more set points in the tiebreaker. He quickly fell 2-0 down in the second set, and Kamke broke again in the fifth game of the third.
“Like I said yesterday, anything is possible. It was tough for me in the beginning because he didn’t miss and put a lot of pressure on my service games,” Kamke said. “But after 4-0 for him I felt like ‘OK, I have to get a little bit more loose’ because the tension was so tight. As soon as the second set started I thought I had the control.”
Kamke sealed the victory with a forehand winner down the line that Benneteau sent into the net.
“The first set was physically tough for both players and it gave the German player a big boost,” Clement said. “Kamke played exceptionally well. He was totally dominating by the end.”
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