Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge staged a brilliant comeback to beat France's Fabrice Santoro and Olivier Delaitre today and take Australia within one victory of a Davis Cup final triumph.
The 2-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory silenced French fans and gave Australia a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five final.
Australia, playing its 44th final, goes for its 27th Cup championship Sunday when Mark Philippoussis plays Cedric Pioline and Lleyton Hewitt faces Sebastien Grosjean.
Woodforde and Woodbridge, unbeaten in 11 Davis Cup matches spanning five years, used all their experience to claw back into the match after the French pair came within one point of taking a 2-0 lead.
"We came back from the dead," Woodbridge said. "At 5-3 and a set down it felt like we were two sets down. It was an incredible feeling to win from where we were. I hadn't missed a ball in practice by more than a foot and suddenly today I was missing by 10. But we started to settle and that was the key."
Both teams knew the importance of the match: Since 1978, the winner of the doubles match in the Davis Cup final has gone on to win the trophy every year.
Initially, the thunderous support that unnerved Grosjean in his straight-set loss to Philippoussis on Friday inspired France's doubles team, which raced to a 4-0 first-set lead. Santoro and Delaitre, a team that has won five doubles titles, looked unstoppable, taking the first set in 38 minutes and moving to a 4-2 second-set lead.
In the fourth game of the second set, the crowd was brought to its feet when Delaitre won a point with a reflex volley played from behind his back. But the Aussies refused to buckle. They saved four set points at 2-4 and another set point when Santoro was serving at 5-4. Suddenly, France's volleying lost its bite.
The Woodies broke serve again to take the second set before dominating the third to the delight of the Australian fans decked out in green and gold. Santoro's service faltered in the third game of the fourth set and the visiting team eased to victory, winning 16 of the last 20 games.
Australia team captain John Newcombe was full of praise for his players.
"I haven't seen Mark [Woodforde] react so fast for about four years. He was like a man possessed."