Published: Wed, September 19, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Paire Davis Cup gamble pays off for France, Croatia lead USA

Paire Davis Cup gamble pays off for France, Croatia lead USA

France's Benoit Paire reacts during his match against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.

Doubles pair Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut sealed France's win over Spain in their Davis Cup semifinal on Saturday, giving the defending champions an unassailable 3-0 lead.

France, captained by 1983 French Open victor Yannick Noah, will meet either Croatia or the United States in the final.

Following victories for Benoit Paire and Lucas Pouille in Friday's singles, Benneteau and Mahut, who won both their previous Davis Cup rubbers when teamed together, were fancied to finish the job in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.

The bearded 29-year-old enjoyed what he termed "a dream" 7-5, 6-1, 6-0 defeat of Pablo Carreno Busta to get Noah's defending champions off to a ideal start in less than two hours.

Pouille defeated Agut 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in a thrilling semi-final clash.

Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers should play for the first time together in the Davis Cup, with Granollers making a return to the national team for the first time since 2013, playing with Marc Lopez and Tommy Robredo in the past.

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Meanwhile, Croatia raced to a commanding 2-0 lead over the United Status on the opening day of their Davis Cup semi-final in Zadar on Friday.

Borna Coric came through a tense tie-break in the second set to record a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 result over Steve Johnson after two hours and 24 minutes on court.

The 2014 US Open champion has now won 37 matches in the competition, more than any other Croatian having previously sat level with Ivan Ljubicic.

The US, the tournament's most successful nation, could still meet the French in what would be their first final since 2007.

Whether Benneteau, who has come out of retirement to help the French cause, will be available to play in the final remains uncertain, though, despite his outstanding performance on Saturday.

Serena Williams branded Ramos a "liar" and a "thief" during her defeat to Naomi Osaka, with the American fined $17,000 for three code violations.

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