Paris: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet put France back in the Davis Cup final by winning the doubles and ending the two-year reign of the Czech Republic on Saturday.
Tsonga and Gasquet, who won their singles on Friday, gave Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek a rare doubles defeat in Davis Cup, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-1 at Roland Garros.
France made the final for the first time since 2010. It won the last of its nine cups in 2001.
The defending champion Czechs needed to win the doubles to keep alive their chances of reaching a third straight final, but Stepanek played with an apparent right injury that required frequent treatment, and Berdych, who lost his singles to Gasquet, struggled with consistency.
Both captains amended their pairings before the match, but Berdych and Stepanek were unable to extend their winning partnership, as they were handed only their second loss in 17 doubles in the competition, the last occasion to Spain in the 2009 final.
The French pair got off to a strong start on center court, breaking in the second game when Gasquet fired a passing shot in Berdych's feet. They quickly built a 4-1 lead but dropped three consecutive games as Stepanek raised his level.
Gasquet unleashed a superb backhand pass to put the French 4-2 ahead in the tiebreak but the the Czechs regained momentum as they won five straight points to close out the set.
The French had to dig deep to stave off seven break points early in the second set, and went a break up at 3-2 off Stepanek's serve when Tsonga hit a backhand crosscourt winner.
Stepanek and Berdych left the court with the French up 5-4, as the former asked for medical treatment. They were greeted with jeers and whistles when they returned after a nearly 10-minute break. Tsonga looked unfazed and held his serve, wrapping up the set with an ace to level the set score.
Berdych dropped his focus as he served two consecutive double faults in the error-riddled next game to hand the French a break. The tall Czech was again at fault when he missed a backhand volley on Stepanek's serve, with their opponents moving up 3-0.
The twists and turns continued as the Czechs recovered in the next game after Tsonga and Gasquet wasted four chances to increase their lead before Gasquet surrendered his serve.
Stepanek received treatment on his hip, but the obvious pain on his face did not prevent him and Berdych to break at love with good returns. The Czechs won three straight games to lead 5-4, then failed to hold on a 4-2 lead in the tiebreak. Gasquet fired a dazzling pass down the line to seal the set, raising his arms in triumph to the delight of the legion of French fans.
Stepanek could hardly move in the fourth set, and the French needed only 31 minutes to wrap it up.