PARIS: Great Britain edged closer to their first Davis Cup semi-finals in 34 years on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) while 28-time champions Australia stayed alive in their quest to make the last four.
Belgium wrapped up a first semi-final spot since 1999 by seeing off Canada 3-0.
They will tackle Argentina, who beat Serbia, playing without Novak Djokovic, in September for a place in the final.
At Queen’s Club in London, world number three Andy Murray teamed up with brother Jamie to beat France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nicolas Mahut to move 2-1 ahead.
The Murrays secured a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 victory in the doubles rubber that left Britain needing one win from Sunday’s two remaining singles to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1981.
Andy can secure a last-four showdown against Australia or Kazakhstan if he defeats scheduled opponent Gilles Simon in the first of those singles ties.
If he loses, British world number 89 James Ward is due to face world number 12 Tsonga in what would be the decisive second singles.
“We played an unbelievably high level-match against a top team in a great atmosphere. To represent your country with your brother and to win a match like this is unbelievable,” Andy said.
The 28-year-old insisted he would be okay to play on Sunday (Monday in Manila) despite suffering a third set injury.
“It was not so much my groin as my hip. It’s sore but there’s only one more match then I can rest after that,” he said.
“I’ll get patched-up and hopefully put on another good performance,” Andy added.
Nine-time winners France finished as runners-up to Switzerland last year, but now they are teetering on the brink of a first defeat against old rivals Britain since 1978.
“There was a lot of quality on court today. We gave our best but we were playing a good team. They showed today they can do some good matches together,” Tsonga said.
On Friday, Simon beat Ward 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 before Murray got the better of Tsonga 7-5, 7-6 (12/10), 6-2 in the opening singles.
Argentina reached their 10th Davis Cup semi-final in 13 years when they defeated Serbia in Buenos Aires.
Carlos Berlocq and Leonardo Mayer sealed the crucial point with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 win over Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic in the doubles.
Serbia was playing without world number one and recently crowned Wimbledon champion Djokovic who opted to rest rather than make the trip to Buenos Aires.
On Friday (Saturday in Manila), Mayer defeated Filip Krajinovic 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 while Federico Delbonis saw off Troicki 2-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 for a 2-0 first-day lead.
In Ostend, Ruben Bemelmans and Kimmer Coppejans gave Belgium victory over Canada with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 triumph in the doubles against Daniel Nestor and Adil Shamasdin.
Canada, without injured world number six Milos Raonic and Wimbledon quarter-finalist Vasek Pospisil, had lost both of Friday’s singles.
Steve Darcis saw off Frank Dancevic 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-3 while world number 14 David Goffin beat Filip Peliwo 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
In Darwin, Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth kept Australia alive in their quarterfinals against Kazakhstan with a fighting 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 win over Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov.
Hewitt is Australia’s most successful player in the Davis Cup and took his total win-loss record to 57-19 in his 40th tie over 17 years.
“It’s up there,” Hewitt said when asked what the doubles victory meant to him.
“I haven’t played too many doubles matches at 2-0 down when the pressure’s on,” he added.