LILLE, France – The French duo of Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut on Saturday defeated the Spanish pair of Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers 6-0, 6-4, 7-6 (7) to steer their side to the Davis Cup final for 19th time.
This was defending champion France’s third point in the tie held at Stade Pierre Mauroy, an indoor hard-court venue in the northern French city of Lille.
In the first singles rubber on Friday, Benoit Paire had kicked off the tie by defeating Pablo Carreño Busta 7-5, 6-1, 6-0, before Lucas Pouille overpowered Roberto Bautista-Agut 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 later that day.
The French duo did not disappoint Saturday as they prevailed over their Spanish opponents in two hours and four minutes, thanks to a strong offensive performance.
Watched by Spain tennis great Manuel Santana and Spanish tennis federation Miguel Diaz, Lopez and Granollers lost the first set in 18 minutes, winning just five points in the process.
The French pair found their way, on the strength of Mahut’s powerful shots (one of which hit Feliciano’s eye), to break their opponent’s serve in the third game and seal the second set a few games later.
The Spaniards seemed on their way to a rally after making the most of their lone break point of the entire match for a 2-0 lead in the third set.
However, they conceded their service game in the seventh game and then the set went with the serve toward a tie break that the French duo won.
With the final berth sealed, only one of two singles rubbers scheduled for Sunday is to be played and will be a mere formality, consisting of a best-of-three sets match and not the usual five.
The other rubber could be played if both captains and the umpire agree.
Next up for France will be either Croatia or the United States in the Davis Cup Final, scheduled for Nov. 23-25.
Croatia leads the US team 2-0 in the tie held at Sportski Centar’s outdoor clay court in the Croatian city of Zadar.
If Croatia makes the most of its lead and seals the remaining berth, then the final tie will be played in France, while the US will host the tie should they rally.
This was Spain’s first defeat under new captain Sergi Bruguera, having steered the team to victory against Great Britain 3-1 and Germany 3-2.
Despite the defeat, Spain still leads France 6-2 in Davis Cup meetings with the previous French victories also coming on home soil in 1923 and 2010.