Paire gives France 1-0 lead against Spain in Davis Cup tie

France captain Yannick Noah in celebratory mood

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.

Davis Cup rookie Benoit Paire helped holders France to a 2-0 semi-final lead over Spain with Croatia in command against the United States by the same margin after Friday's opening singles.

Before almost 14,000 fans, Paire fired 16 aces and 37 winners, compared to his rival's one and eight, respectively.

For the singles rubbers, Bruguera will rely on Pablo Carreno Busta, Roberto Bautista Agut and Albert Ramos-Vinolas who stepped in instead of Nadal. Find us on Facebook too!

France's Benoit Paire celebrates after winning his match against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta. Yet he has grown into a much more reliable and consistent performer in 2018 which prompted Noah to select him for his first tie at the unlikely age of 29.

Pouille - who beat Belgium's Steve Darcis in the decisive fifth rubber in the final past year - lost the first set before letting slip a 2-1 lead, though he claimed the crucial break in the ninth game of the decider before serving out for a 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory.

From 3-5 down, he rallied to win the next nine games and, in total, 16 of the last 17 as his all-court attacking approach made Carreno Busta seem flat-footed and just a little lost as he succumbed in less than two hours.

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His 87 unforced errors only complicated his task but he never relented and his persistency prevailed.

Speaking after the match, Benneteau, who came out of retirement to play this doubles match, offered no assurances over his availability for the final later this year.

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.

Croatia's top player and world number six Marin Cilic then defeated Frances Tiafoe, a Davis Cup débutant 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) to leave the hosts on the brink of the final.

Bryan and Harrison were one set from victory but the Croatian pair of Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic fought back to force a decider which the American duo won after a tie-break.

Croatia have made the final twice, in 2005, when they were crowned champions, and 2016.

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