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Page last updated at 18:13 GMT, Saturday, 10 July 2010 19:13 UK

France beat Spain to secure Davis Cup semi-final spot

Benneteau and Forget celebrate
France ended Spain's bid to win a third Davis Cup title

France are through to their first Davis Cup semi-final since 2004 after knocking defending champions Spain out in Clermont-Ferrand on Saturday.

Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau beat Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez 6-1 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-5) to give France an unassailable 3-0 lead.

The win is France's first over Spain since 1923 and sets up a semi-final against either Argentina or Russia.

"It's magical," France captain Guy Forget told France 3 television.

"They pulled for each other. I hope it's just the start of a long story for that squad."

The French squad celebrated their victory in a team huddle and sang the Marseillaise, with the home crowd joining in.

France had not had it all their own way - the Spaniards took the doubles into a fourth set having saved a match point in the third set tie-break.

"I knew it was going to be difficult and I had a big fright when they started to play in the third set and won the tie-break," added Forget.

But the team captain, who played with Henri Leconte when France beat the United States to win the Davis Cup in 1991, was impressed with their fightback.

"They were just great and I hope they will play with the same faith in September," he added.


Llodra said he hoped France, who were last in the final in 2002, would go on and win the trophy.

"For the record, I was 11 when I watched Guy and Henri beat the United States in the final of the Davis Cup in 1991," he said.

"It has always been my dream to emulate them. We have beaten the holders and it's fantastic."

Spain's defeat ended their hopes of a hat-trick of Davis Cup titles, a feat that has only been achieved by the United States.

Argentina currently hold the upper hand in their quarter-final, taking a 2-1 lead over Russia after Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos beat Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Kunitsyn 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 6-7 (3-5) 6-1.

Argentina captain Tito Vazquez made the decision to rest David Nalbandian, and the move paid off.

Russia's chances of fighting back on Sunday will be further hampered with Davydenko now doubtful to play.

The Czech Republic also booked their place in the semi-finals after Jan Hajek and Lukas Dlouhy gave them an unassailable 3-0 lead over hosts Chile in Coquimbo.

The duo beat Jorge Aguilar and Nicolas Massu 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 3-6 6-3 to set up a final four showdown with either Serbia or Croatia.

The Czechs had been leading 2-0 overnight after Ivo Minar beat Massu and Hajek saw off Paul Capdeville in Friday's singles rubbers.

In the other quarter-final, Serbia hold a 2-1 lead over Croatia after Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic defeated Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig 6-3 6-2 6-4, meaning Serbia need only one more point to secure a first ever trip to the semi-finals.

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see also
GB seal Davis Cup win over Turkey
10 Jul 10 |  Tennis
France take shock lead over Spain
09 Jul 10 |  Tennis

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