Buenos Aires, Argentina – Former Australian Open runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Monaco were Friday's opening singles winners in the best-of-five 2013 Davis Cup quarterfinal between France and host Argentina.
The first bout of the day saw the powerful Frenchman Tsonga outlast a game Carlos Berlocq 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 in 3 hours, 52 minutes, while the nightcap saw Argentina get on the board when Monaco handled French replacement Gilles Simon 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 6-4 in 2 1/2 hours. Simon was placed in the draw Thursday when world No. 9 Richard Gasquet made himself unavailable due to an ankle injury. Both of Friday's winners recorded six service breaks, compared to three for each of the losers.
This matchup is being staged outdoors on red clay at Buenos Aires' Parque Roca.
Saturday's doubles rubber will feature a French duo of Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra, while the hosts will counter with a tandem of former Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos, who shocked the great Rafael Nadal in a clay-court final in Chile in February.
Sunday's reverse singles call for the eighth-ranked Tsonga to meet the world No. 19 Monaco and the 13th-ranked Simon to tangle with the No. 71 Berlocq.
Team France is captained by rookie skipper Arnaud Clement, while the Argentines are guided by Martin Jaite.
Argentina is competing without world No. 7 star and former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who also made himself unavailable for the Argentines' opening-round tie against Germany in February.
Nine-time champion France is a perfect 5-0 all-time versus Argentina in Davis Cup play, dating back to 1952. The French prevailed 5-0 in their last meeting in a World Group semifinal in Lyon in 2010. France is also 1-0 in Buenos Aires, with that victory coming 31 years ago in the opening round.
France last won the Davis Cup in 2001, while Argentina is still seeking its' first-ever title, having finished as a runner-up on four occasions, including as recently as 2011.
The Argentina-France winner will meet the Czech Republic-Kazakhstan victor in the semifinals in September.