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<font size="7" face="Verdana">ALLEZ FRANCE!</font><br /></font><font size="5" face="Verdana" color="red">Congrats, specially NICOLAS ESCUDE!!!</font> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">

[ December 02, 2001: Message edited by: Caio Braz ]</p>
 

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Arnaud Clement, Fabrice Santoro, Sebastien Grosjean, Cedric Pioline, Nicolas Escude and Guy Forget celebrate the title <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">

[ December 02, 2001: Message edited by: Caio Braz ]</p>
 

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<br />Pat Rafter, Todd Woodbridge, Lleyton Hewitt and Wayne Arthurs stand on the podium after the loss <img src="cool.gif" border="0">

<br />Don't cry Wayne! <img src="graemlins/sad.gif" border="0" alt="[Sad]" /> <img src="graemlins/sad.gif" border="0" alt="[Sad]" /> <img src="graemlins/sad.gif" border="0" alt="[Sad]" /> <img src="graemlins/sad.gif" border="0" alt="[Sad]" />

<br />You too Pat! <img src="graemlins/sad.gif" border="0" alt="[Sad]" /> <img src="graemlins/sad.gif" border="0" alt="[Sad]" /> <img src="graemlins/sad.gif" border="0" alt="[Sad]" /> <img src="wink.gif" border="0">

<br />Gee! How did he miss that shot!? <img src="tongue.gif" border="0">
 

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Fabrice Santoro and Cedric Pioline def. Lleyton Hewitt and Patrick Rafter 2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-1<br /> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">
 

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Congratulations guys. France is the best team of the world for the year 2001 !!!!! <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="wink.gif" border="0"> !!!!!
 

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<br /> <img src="rolleyes.gif" border="0"> LOL

<br />Gee the whole Aussie team is crying <img src="graemlins/sad.gif" border="0" alt="[Sad]" /> <img src="wink.gif" border="0">

<br /> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">
 

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Tennis-Escude Completes French Davis Cup Victory<br />By Julian Linden

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - France stunned Australia 3-2 on Sunday to win their ninth Davis Cup title following one of the biggest selection blunders in Australian sporting history.

Nicolas Escude clinched the tie for France when he beat Wayne Arthurs -- deputizing for the injured Pat Rafter -- 7-6 6-7 6-3 in the fifth match after Lleyton Hewitt had beaten Sebastien Grosjean in straight sets to square the tie at 2-2 and set up the decider.

The French had gone into the final as rank outsiders on the specially-laid grass court at Melbourne Park, but played magnificently over the three days.

However their cause was helped by a bizarre gamble from the Australians that backfired on the hosts in the most spectacular fashion.

Captain John Fitzgerald teamed Hewitt with Rafter for Saturday's doubles in a last-minute switch, dropping established doubles pairing Arthurs and Todd Woodbridge.

But the makeshift pair lost to Cedric Pioline and Fabrice Santoro leaving the hosts trailing 2-1 and facing deep trouble.

To compound Australia's misery, former world number one Rafter, who had been due to play Escude in the deciding singles, had to pull out an hour before the start of the decider after aggravating an arm injury in that doubles, leaving journeyman Arthurs to carry Australia's hopes.

TOOK A RISK

Arthurs, ranked 64th in the world, hadn't played Davis Cup singles since April last year but suddenly found himself thrown into the biggest match of his life.

``We took a risk in doubles and it didn't work, but it was a risk we had to take,'' Rafter said.

``I knew I probably only had one more match left in me so we decided to go for it... but it didn't come off.''

Escude, ranked 27th in the world, had never been beaten in Davis Cup singles coming into the final and continued his perfect record by beating world number one Hewitt in Friday's opening match.

A natural serve-and-volleyer, his game was perfectly suited to Melbourne Park's temporary grass, but his match with Arthurs, also a serve-and-volleyer, ultimately came down to a battle of nerves.

The first two sets were decided by tiebreaks after neither player was able to break their opponent's serve, with Escude drawing first blood to win the first 7-3 and Arthurs taking the second 7-5 to draw level.

Escude broke Arthurs for the first time in the fourth game of the third set and held his remaining service games to take a 2-1 lead.

FIRST DEFEAT

Both players had chances to break in the fourth set but again it was Escude who seized his opportunities, breaking an inconsolable Arthurs twice to win the last three games and seal a famous victory for France.

Escude's win gave France their ninth Davis Cup title, joining Britain in third place on the all-time list, behind the United States with 31 and Australia with 27.

It also condemned Australia to their first defeat in a Davis Cup final at home since they lost to the U.S. at Adelaide in 1968.

Australia beat France in the 1999 Davis Cup final in Nice and lost last year's decider to Spain in Barcelona and were strong favorites to win this time.

But history was against them after Friday's singles were split 1-1 and they lost Saturday's doubles, with only five teams having ever come back from 2-1 behind to win.

Hewitt gave the home supporters some hope with a comfortable 6-3 6-2 6-3 win over Grosjean to ensure the tie would at least come down to a decider.

The U.S. Open (news - web sites) champion's baseline tactics had been exposed by Escude on Friday but he was far more comfortable against Grosjean, who also plays from the back of the court.

Escude, though, shattered Australian hopes of a comeback with his victory to leave him with an 8-0 singles record in Davis Cup competition. <br /> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0"> <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">
 

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Congrats to France!!!! And good decision of them putting Nicolas in. <img src="wink.gif" border="0">
 

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Congrats to France! <br />Fabrice Santoro deserves some credit too for his magical doubles play.



[ December 02, 2001: Message edited by: bubble ]</p>
 

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YEAH AUSTRALIA LOST!

No offence u guys just win EVRYTHING!!!!

WELL DONE FRANCE!
 

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<Font size=6>Congratulations France!!!!</font
 

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<img src="graemlins/sad.gif" border="0" alt="[Sad]" /> for Pat and the rest of the guys, but CONGRATS to France. They certainly earned it.
 

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Felicitations L'Equipe Francais!! <img src="smile.gif" border="0">



<br />(but so sad it had to be Australia to loose in the final, I would have been happy if they had won too!) Poor Pat Rafter, and poor Wayne Arthurs-I hope he doesn't blame himself; I'm still puzzled by the decision on the doubles <img src="confused.gif" border="0"> )
 

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<br /><font size=4>Congrats!! Well done, the French Team!!</font><br />
 

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