France began their quest for an eleventh Davis Cup on Thursday night with a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in Innsbruck.
The initial singles match in the men’s national team competition ended badly for the French.
Richard Gasquet, the 35-year-old former top 10 player, lost a draw to 21-year-old Tomas Machac.
World number 121 upset the form book and beat the veteran 7-6, 6-2.
Adrian Mannarino pulled France even after coming off a set down to defeat Jiri Veseley 6-7, 6-4, 6-2.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, winners of the 2021 season that ended the doubles championships, then went out for the decisive match against the unforeseen pair Zdenek Kolar and Jiri Lehecka.
The Czechs claimed Herbert’s serve to take a 4-2 lead and finished the opening set 6-3 after 37 minutes.
The French pair wasted four break points in the eighth match when the Czech duo dug deep to 4-4.
But they took Lehecka’s service play to take the second set 6-4 and level the game after 86 minutes.
Mahut and Herbert broke for a 3-1 lead in the decision and held to their advantage to take the set 6-3 and the match after two hours and five minutes.
“They were quite slow conditions and it took some time for us to adjust,” Herbert said after the match.
Sebastien Grosjean, France’s team captain, added: “It was a long and difficult night. The Czechs played well in all three matches. I am proud of my players because we met some low moments but they have come through.”
On Saturday, France can book their quarter-final place from Group C with a victory over Great Britain.
In Group B on Thursday in Madrid, Sweden beat Canada 3-0 and in Group D in Turin, the 2018 champions Croatia opened their account with a 3-0 blow past Australia.