BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Steve Darcis completed a thrilling comeback to send Belgium into their first Davis Cup final for more than 100 years on Sunday, winning the deciding fifth rubber against Argentina.
The hosts had trailed 2-1 overnight but world number 15 David Goffin crushed Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-2 6-1 leveled things up and then Darcis, roared on by home fans in the Forest National, fought past Federico Delbonis 6-4 2-6 7-5 7-6(3).
Darcis had squandered two match points at 5-4 in the fourth set but after forging ahead in the tiebreak he powered away a smash to end the contest and was immediately mobbed by his team mates who rushed on to court to celebrate.
Belgium, who have never won the team competition, will have home advantage against Andy Murray’s Britain who reached their first final for 37 years by beating Australia.
Victory had looked a big ask on Saturday as Argentina won the doubles to take a 2-1 lead, but the failure of their number one Leonardo Mayer to take to court on Sunday against Goffin helped swing the tie around.
Mayer, ranked 39, had played nearly eight hours of tennis on Friday and Saturday and visiting captain Daniel Orsanic opted to play 68th-ranked Schwartzman instead.
Goffin described his performance as “perfect” as he left the stage for Darcis, perhaps best known for beating Rafa Nadal at Wimbledon in 2013, to finish the job against a player ranked one place lower in the rankings.
Darcis sailed through the first set but Delbonis dominated the second with his opponent growing weary.
The crunch moment came at 5-5 in the third set when Delbonis dropped serve and Darcis then converted his first set point.
Three consecutive breaks of serve, two for Darcis, in the fourth saw him serve at 5-4 but two match points went begging and Delbonis forced a tiebreak.
With the fans chanting his name, Darcis played superbly to move 5-1 ahead and then 6-2, and although Delbonis saved one more match point, Darcis would not be denied.
Belgium’s only other final, in 1904, ended in a 5-0 defeat by Britain.
Editing by Martyn Herman