Davis Cup holders Spain crash out against France

Last Updated 10 July 2010, 16:37 IST

Spain were missing world number one Rafael Nadal, who took the week off to treat a knee injury but ended up flying to Johannesburg for Sunday's final against the Netherlands.
On an indoor hardcourt, Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra drove a stake into Spanish chances of a trophy hat-trick with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-5) defeat of Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco in doubles, which put France into the September semifinals against either Argentina or Russia.

France had not beaten Spain in 87 years in the worldwide team competition. The upset prevented Spain from trying to duplicate the three straight Davis Cup titles achieved by the US more than three decades ago. "It's magic, we've created some history here today," said captain Guy Forget. "It's been so long since we beat Spain."

The French had swept Friday's opening singles with victories from Gael Monfils and Michael Llodra. "This was a tough, tough tie, but our team played well," said the captain. "It was too easy in the doubles, winning the first two sets in an hour.

"Our level dropped a touch in the third and they took advantage, but we lifted in the fourth, the guys really deserved this win. "We had good tactics throughout the tie and we had a lot of players injured. But we played very well."

The French missed on a chance to end the afternoon in straight set as Spain saved a match point in the third set. Benneteau and Llodra came through in the fourth set tie-break on their fourth winning chance.

"It's fabulous, magic," said Benneteau. "Beating the winner of the last two trophies is huge. We were able to finish the job today in the doubles. We hung in well on the tie-breakers after such an easy start."

In Moscow, two-times champion Russia were clinging on against Argentina after the South Americans took a 2-1 lead as Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos defeated Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Kunitsyn 7-6 (9-7), 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1. The win required just over three hours, with the off-the-boil Russians saving a match point before losing the rubber. The weekend tie is a re-play of the 2006 final by Russia.

Davydenko, the number one who also lost his singles rubber, is making a slow comeback to tennis following three months out with a broken wrist. The Russian pairing had never previously played together, while Argentine Schwank was making his doubles debut in the event.

"We have a small hope for tomorrow and it's going to be very difficult, as being 2-1 down is not so easy," said Davydenko. At Split, visiting Serbia took a 2-1 lead over Croatia as Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic combined in doubles to defeat Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

The Czech Republic, 2009 losing finalist to Spain, held a 2-0 lead over Chile in their tie continuing in South America later.

(Published 10 July 2010, 16:37 IST)

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