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France vs Spain Davis Cup SF tennis news, matches and live streaming: Veterans Mahut and Benneteau send France into back-to-back finals

Leye Aduloju in News 16 Sep 2018
  • France beat Spain to qualify for the 2018 Davis Cup final
  • Veterans, Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut scored the winning point on an emotional day in Lille.
The French team celebrate their qualification for the Davis Cup final. (Photo by

Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau outclassed the Spanish pair of Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers in Saturday's doubles' rubber to give France an unassailable 3-0 lead and send the defending champions into back-to-back Davis Cup finals.

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify  

These are the final rites of the Davis Cup in its old, traditional format; with the new, controversial revamp set to kick in next year. It is interesting to note that one of the two nations in this semi-final will host the grand finale of the 2019 competition, with Madrid and Lille earmarked as possible first hosts of the new Davis Cup. 

France and Spain have rich Davis Cup traditions, and both nations will be keen to leave one final mark on the competition in its current guise before it undergoes its metamorphosis next year. 

With ten titles, France are the third most successful country in Davis Cup history, with only runaway leaders, United States and Australia above Yannick Noah's men on the all-time list of Davis Cup titlists. However, they went 16 years without being champions until Lucas Pouille defeated Steve Darcis in Lille last year to end the country's long wait for a tenth David Cup title. Returning to the semis following victories over Netherlands and Italy, the French are looking to reach back-to-back finals for the first time since 2002. 

To do that, they will have to get through Spain, who are without their top player, Rafael Nadal. The world number one recently retired from the US Open final due to a knee injury. Nadal played a prominent role in Spain's progress to the semis, winning his two rubbers against Philipp Kohlschreiber and Alexander Zverev as the Spaniards recovered from a 1-2 deficit to win through in five rubbers. David Ferrer, who is also not in this squad, scored the decisive point, taking down Kohlschreiber in an epic fifth rubber in Valencia. Spain had a more comfortable route past Britain in the first round, with Albert Ramos-Vinolas starring as they beat the Brits 3-1 in Marbella.

The five-time champions are seeking a first title since 2011, and a first final since 2012, when they were beaten by the Czech Republic. 

France vs Spain Davis Cup Match Schedule

France are through to the Davis Cup final after building up an unassailable 3-0 lead over Spain.

Latest France vs Spain Davis Cup results

RUBBER 1: Benoit Paire (FRA) def. Pablo Carreno Busta (SPA) 7-5 6-1 6-0

Benoit Paire made a superb entry into Davis Cup tennis as he beat Spaniard, Pablo Carreno Busta in straight sets to give France a 1-0 advantage in Lille.

Paire has not always been the most reliable player, which possibly explains why he has waited this long for his Davis Cup bow, but his selection proved to be an inspired decision as he took down an injured Carreno Busta 7-5 6-1 6-0.

The enigmatic Frenchman, ranked 54th in the world, had been preferred to world number 24, Richard Gasquet, but he repaid captain's Yannick Noah's faith with an emphatic win. 

The 29-year-old trailed 5-3 in the first set, and saved three set points in the opener, but he won 16 of the last 17 games, storming past Carreno Busta in an hour and 56 minutes. Carreno Busta later admitted that he was bothered by an adductor problem during the match, the same injury that forced his retirement from his second round meeting with Joao Sousa at the US Open, but that did little to douse Paire’s moment, who was clinical in finishing off an ailing opponent.

“I’ve waited a long time for this and it’s a dream to win on my debut,” smiled Paire. “I never had the choice before now (to play for France) and though it’s been a long time, hopefully it’s not too late for me and I’ll get more chances.”

Paire dropped just seven points on his first serve, saving five of the six break points he faced. He kept things relatively clean with 53 winners and 48 unforced errors. It was a forgettable day for Carreno Busta, whose error count ballooned to 37 as against just the nine winners.

RUBBER 2: Lucas Pouille (FRA) def. Roberto Bautista-Agut 3-6 7-6 6-4 2-6 6-4

Lucas Pouille gave France a 2-0 lead in their Davis Cup semifinal against Spain with a battling five-set victory over Roberto Bautista-Agut on Friday.

The French No. 1 pulled off a 3-6 7-6 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory to put the defending champions on the brink of back-to-back Davis Cup finals.

Bautista-Agut had not won a match since July, having missed most of the North American hard-court season with an abdominal injury, but it was the Spaniard who made the better start, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the opening set. That solitary break was enough to earn him a one-set lead. Pouille hit back to take a dramatic second set on a tie break, requiring eight set points to do so, but he soon found himself in more trouble as Bautista-Agut opened up a 3-0 lead in the third. Pouille's response was emphatic, as he won six of the next seven games to take the third set.

However, Bautista-Agut refused to go away, as he dominated the fourth set to force a decider. Things went with serve in the first eight games, but Pouille struck with the decisive break in the ninth, earning the chance to serve out the match.

Given the preceding drama, that was never going to be straightforward, and so it proved as the Frenchman had to fend off a break back point before closing out the win on his third match point.

In the end, Pouille was rewarded for his greater attacking intent and array of shots, but he was made to earn the win by a plucky Bautista-Agut, who looked closer to his best after his recent injury worries. The bottom line is that France are firmly in the box seat in this tie, and will look to finish off the win in Saturday's doubles rubber.

RUBBER 3: Nicolas Mahut/ Julien Benneteau (FRA) def. Feliciano Lopez/Marcel Granollers (SPA) 6-0 6-4 7-6

France cruised into the Davis Cup final on Saturday after Nicolas Mahut and Julien Benneteau outclassed Feliciaon Lopez and Marcel Granollers in straight sets to give the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead in Lille. The first two sets sped by as France dominated, but Spain made a better feast of it in the third set. The visitors threatened a fightback when they opened up a 4-1 lead, but Mahut and Benneteau reeled them in, breaking back before edging the ensuing tie break.

France vs Spain Davis Cup Squads

France vs Spain Davis Cup Squads

Player 1 (Ranking)Lucas Pouille (19)Pablo Carreno Busta (21)
Player 2 (Ranking)Richard Gasquet (24)Roberto Bautista-Agut (26)
Player 3 (Ranking)Benoit Paire (54)Albert Ramos-Vinolas (55)
Player 4 (Ranking)Julien Benneteau (57)Feliciano Lopez (74)
Player 5 (Ranking)Nicolas Mahut (150)Marcel Granollers (101)
CaptainYannick NoahSergi Bruguera

France have their top-two players in this semifinal squad, with Lucas Pouille and Richard Gasquet, ranked 19th and 24th respectively leading the side. Those two will likely get the call to play singles on Friday, although, Benoit Paire remains an interesting option. As France's No. 1 player, Pouille is almost assured of his spot, especially after last year's title winning heroics. The 24-year-old had lost to David Goffin in the opening rubber of last year's final, but he redeemed himself in the decisive fifth rubber, easing past Steve Darcis in straights sets. The Frenchman backed up that result with victories over Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini in this year's quarter finals against Italy in Genoa, taking his overall Davis Cup tally to 6-3. Pouille had a good start to the year, winning the Montpellier title, and reaching finals in Marseille and Dubai, briefly breaking into the top-ten in the process, but he has been ordinary since then. The only tangible result he has managed was a semifinal in Stuttgart.

Will a return to the Davis Cup setting bring out the best in the Frenchman?

Gasquet hasn't had the greatest year either (he's been bothered by injuries to be fair), even though he has sneaked in a couple of decent results, like a title-winning performance in s-Hertogenbosch and making finals in Bastad and Montpellier. That overall consistency has been missing. He takes a 14-9 record in Davis Cup singles rubbers into this tie.

Strangely enough, Benoit Paire is yet to make his Davis Cup bow, but the maverick Frenchman remains a useful option if Noah so wishes. Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut are favourites to get the doubles' nod.

Without Rafael Nadal, Spain’s team-leading responsibilities (in terms of rankings, that is), fall on Pablo Carreno Busta (2-2 in Davis Cup singles rubbers). The world number 21 will likely be joined by fellow top-30 player, Roberto Bautista-Agut for Friday's singles, while Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers are primarily in the squad for their doubles prowess. The latter two are ranked inside the top 30 of the world doubles rankings.

Davis Cup format

Davis Cup ties are played according to a unique format developed over the 116 years the competition has been played. However, the tournament in its current guise will be discarded from the 2019 season, with the ITF board adopting a new format from next season.

Each Davis Cup tie consists of five rubbers: Two singles matches played on Friday followed by a doubles match on Saturday, with the reverse singles pairings being played on Sunday. Each match is decided over the best of five sets.

Player nominations for each tie can be changed up until an hour before the start of play.

One nation hosts the tie, with the choice of ground decided by where the two competing teams played last time.

From next season, the finalists for the previous year will have the choice of hosting their first-round ties.

France vs Spain: The History

France and Spain meet for the ninth time this weekend, with the Spaniards boasting a 6-2 record from their 8 previous encounters. This will be their first meeting since the 2011 semifinal, when Spain defeated France 4-1 in Cordoba, gaining revenge for a 5-0 whitewash they suffered in the previous year's quarter final in Clermont-Ferrand. France's other victory over Spain was in their first ever meeting back in 1932.

Defending champions, France are looking to win this title for the tenth time, while Spain want their sixth Davis Cup title, a first since 2011.

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France vs Spain Davis Cup SF tennis news, matches and live streaming: Veterans Mahut and Benneteau send France into back-to-back finals

Defending champions France take on Spain in the Davis cup semi-finals from 14-16 September. How ill Spain fare without world number one, Rafael Nadal? Read our previews, predictions and stream the matches live online.

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