Spain takes 2-0 lead over France in Davis Cup

Spain takes 2-0 lead over France in Davis Cup

Rafael Nadal shrugged off his disappointment and fatigue from losing the U.S. Open final to rout Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-0, 6-1 Friday and help Spain take a 2-0 lead over France in the Davis Cup semifinals.

By (AP)

Published: Fri 16 Sep 2011, 10:12 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:14 AM

Nadal, playing on his favored outdoor clay in hot conditions at Cordoba’s bullring only four days after losing to Novak Djokovic in New York, mixed precision and power to give the hosts the early lead.

David Ferrer followed that up by beating Gilles Simon 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 as temperatures hovered around 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees F) inside the Plaza de Toros de Los Califas, with the humidity making it feel even hotter.

Spain hasn’t lost on home soil since 1999 and needs one more point to reach its sixth final since 2000. Nadal was clear on who he would prefer to meet in the final as Djokovic’s Serbia faces Argentina in the other semifinal.

“Argentina. Argentina we would play at home and I have more relations with them than with the Serbians,” said Nadal, who has lost six straight finals to Djokovic this season. “I’m not particularly happy with the games I’ve played against Djokovic but the more I play him the better chance I have of beating him.”

France captain Guy Forget’s decided to leave Jo-Wilfried Tsonga out of the opening singles to rest for Saturday’s doubles, when he will partner Michael Llodra against Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez.

France, which is without Gael Monfils to injury, has rallied from 2-0 deficits three times before but not since 1996.

“I think the double point was always the most accessible one for us on paper so we have to go for that,” Forget said. “(Spain) were better in nearly aspect of the game today. (But) we still have a chance to win, I hope.”

Nadal, meanwhile, hasn’t lost a Davis Cup singles match since his debut in 2004 and, despite draping himself in a towel to hide from the searing heat in the changeovers, that run never looked in doubt.

“Everything worked out for the best. At the start it was complicated and I was at the limit, physically,” Nadal, who is 13-0 on clay and 17-1 overall in the Davis Cup, said. “But the effort was positive and in all moments I did what I had to do.”

Despite testing Nadal early in the first set, the French Open champion soon pulled away from 4-3 in the first set as he won the next 11 games with a mix of forehand and net winners.

Nadal’s 30th winner, an exquisite drop shot, clinched a 2-hour victory in which Gasquet failed to conjure up a single break point. Gasquet dropped to 0-10 against the second-ranked Spaniard.

“Maybe he wasn’t as strong as his matches at Roland Garros but a player is exceptional when he plays like that in such heat,” said Gasquet, who was let down by his first serve and 40 unforced errors. “The heat gives him an advantage, as the ball bounces higher and they are harder to play.”

Ferrer, meanwhile, dominated Simon in the first and third sets thanks to some excellent shot making, and the fifth-ranked Spaniard came out on top of a back-and-forth finish to the second set, when the players broke each other five times.

Ferrer managed 27 winners to help set up eight break points and is now 11-0 on clay in Davis Cup singles play. Spain has won the tournament four times, but lost to eventual finalist France in the quarterfinals last year.

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