MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Australian captain John Fitzgerald gambled and lost in the Davis Cup final.
About an hour before Saturday's doubles match started, Fitzgerald replaced Todd Woodbridge, winner of 12 Grand Slam doubles titles and 70 in his career, and Wayne Arthurs with his top two singles players.
The move backfired on Fitzgerald and the Australians.
Cedric Pioline and Fabrice Santoro foiled the gamble, beating late substitutions Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-1 to give France a 2-1 lead in the final.
Rafter and Hewitt now must win in Sunday's reverse singles match for Australia against a rested Nicolas Escude and Sebastien Grosjean.
"We're only up 2-1 and we've still got two matches to play," French captain Guy Forget said. "Davis Cup is a crazy event and anything can happen."
Rafter, who overcame tendinitis in his arm to win his opening singles match against Grosjean, takes on Escude in the first match Sunday. Hewitt, who lost his opening match in five sets to Escude, faces Grosjean in the final match.
The odds don't favor Australia coming back to win the final, although they have history on their side. The country that has won the doubles match in a Davis Cup final has won the title in every year since 1972 with one exception -- Australia lost the doubles in 1977 but came back to beat Italy.
A win by either of the French players on Sunday would give France its ninth Davis Cup and help avenge Australia's win over France in Nice in 1999.
In that match, the French were upset on their favored surface -- clay. Australia installed a portable grass court at Rod Laver Arena in this year's final to give Australia a perceived edge.
Rafter and Hewitt broke Pioline's service in the opening set of the match, then did the same in the fifth to easily win the first set. But the French came back in the second to level the match, breaking Rafter's usually strong serve.
In the third set, the Australians wasted two set points at 5-4 before it went to a tiebreaker. Australia led 5-4 in the tiebreaker before the French stormed back with three straight points.
"This is the best I've ever seen them play together," Forget said. "I think the key was our win in the tiebreaker."
Rafter and Hewitt appeared demoralized in the fourth set as the French romped to victory, disappointing a capacity crowd of more than 15,000.
Fitzgerald defended his move, but admitted "it breaks your heart because they are such a high-quality team."
"But we had two of the best players in the world here, and I have no regrets," said Fitzgerald. "It's a fine line between being a genius and an idiot. But I stand by it."
It is the third win in four Davis Cup matches for Pioline and Santoro this year. They won in the first round against Belgium, lost in the quarterfinal against Switzerland, but won in straight sets in the semifinal against the Netherlands in September.
Hewitt and Rafter won together in Australia's quarterfinal victory over Brazil in April. Going into the match, Rafter had a 3-0 record in Davis Cup doubles, including two wins with Mark Woodforde. Hewitt's only previous doubles match in Davis Cup was against Brazil.
Hewitt and Rafter had played together as a team 15 times with a 12-3 record, including 8-2 this year.
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