Brad Gilbert of the United States defeated Mexico's Leonardo Lavalle in a grueling match Friday, leaving the teams tied at the end of the opening day of singles in a postponed Davis Cup round.

Gilbert defeated Lavalle 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 in a match that lasted about 3 1/2 hours.Earlier, veteran Luis Enrique Herrera gave Mexico the first point by beating American rookie Jim Courier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Doubles play - Jim Pugh and Rick Leach against Jorge Lozano and Lavalle - is scheduled for today with reverse singles on Sunday.

Earlier, U.S. captain Tom Gorman criticized this year's experimental Davis Cup rules, which pit a No. 1 player against a No. 2 of the opposite team.

"I prefer the old style or nothing at all," Gorman said.

This time, it hurt the Americans when the Mexican veteran beat the American rookie.

Courier's match lasted 3 hours 45 minutes under a blazing sun that made temperatures 88 in 7,250-foot high Mexico City.

"In the second set I felt pretty confident . . . but it slipped away from me. I never felt comfortable hitting the ball, I felt I had to hold back a little, especially in the passing shot and smashes," Courier said.

"He won a point here and a point there. Unfortunately, things didn't go my way today, but that's how it is," Courier said.

The U.S.-Mexico match had been scheduled for January, but was delayed because of security problems resulting from the Persian Gulf War.

In the first round of other World Group first-round matches, France got off to a 2-0 lead over Israel, and Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia tied 1-1.

At Rennes, France, Henri Leconte of France beat Amos Mansdorf of Israel 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 7-6 (7-4). And in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Goran Ivanisevic of Yugoslavia defeated Petr Korda of Czechoslovakia 6-1, 7-6, 4-6, 6-1.

The deciding moment in the fourth-set tiebreaker came when Leconte made a spectacular return to make the score 4-2. With Leconte approaching the net, Mansdorf hit a return that tipped the top of the net. That gave Leconte enough time to make a full turn and hit a winning forehand.

Four points later, Leconte wasted one match point on a double fault. But he ended the 31/2-hour match when he came in for a volley following his serve to win the fourth set.

At Prague, Czechoslovakia, Goran Ivanisevic of Yugoslavia, ranked seventh by the ATP, defeated Czechoslovakia's Petr Korda 6-1, 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-2.