France cruise past Spain into Davis Cup final

Villeneuve-d'Ascq (France) (AFP) –


Davis Cup defending champions Spain took an unassailable 3-0 semi-final lead over Spain on Saturday when Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau beat Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers 6-0, 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) in the third of five rubbers on the Lille hardcourt.

Four-time champions France, captained by 1983 French Open winner Yannick Noah, will meet either Croatia or the United States in the final in late November.

Davis Cup rookie Benoit Paire gave France a winning start on Friday when the bearded 29-year-old enjoyed what he termed "a dream" 7-5, 6-1, 6-0 defeat of Pablo Carreno Busta.

Lucas Pouille's nerve-jangling five-set victory -- 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 -- over Roberto Bautista-Agut in the following match made it 2-0.

Croatia could clinch their final ticket in Saturday's doubles in which Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic will face Mike Bryan and Ryan Harrison.

Some fans in the Lille stadium where France hosted Spain wore black t-shirts as a form of 'mourning' as the Davis Cup is in its final year before becoming the Tennis World Cup, with a large banner unfurled reading "Change it Back".