France will host Croatia in the 2018 Davis Cup final after the French pounded Spain over the weekend and Croatia scraped by the U.S.
In World Group Playoffs action past powerhouses Australia and Switzerland were upset, leaving their status in limbo as the ITF prepares to announce which teams will participate in next year’s restructured Davis Cup.
World Group Semifinals:
Croatia d. USA 3-2
The U.S. lost a heartbreaker in the fifth and final match on Sunday as American rookie Frances Tiafoe squandered a 2-1 sets lead, losing to Croat Borna Coric 6-7(0), 6-1, 6-7(11), 6-1, 6-3. Sam Querrey kept the Americans in it on Sunday in the first match, stunning Marin Cilic 6-7(2), 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-4.
On Day 1 Coric beat Steve Johnson and Cilic beat Tiafoe, both in straight sets, to put Croatia up 2-0. On Day 2 Mike Bryan and Ryan Harrison kept the U.S. in it with a grinding 7-5, 7-6(6), 1-6, 6-7(5), 7-6(5) victory over Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic.
Croatia, which lost in the 2016 final to Argentina, is looking for a first title since 2005 when Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic lead their squad past the Slovak Republic 3-2.
France d. Spain 3-0
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is Spain’s only Top 20 player. Without the injured Nadal, who in his last match withdrew from the US Open semifinals, Spain gets swept 3-0.
On hardcourt in France Benoit Paire defeated Spain’s Pablo Carreno-Busta 7-5, 6-1, 6-0 in the first singles on Friday. Lucas Pouille put France up 2-0 after outlasting Roberto Bautista-Agut 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
In the Saturday doubles France clinched it when Julien Benneteau/Nicolas Mahut dominated Marcel Granollers and Feliciano Lopez 6-0, 6-4, 7-6(7).
Benneteau came out of retirement to play the match. “This is the best tennis I’ve seen from my team in three years,” French captain Yannick Noah said. “I didn’t have a beer for a week — I deserve my beer!” France is in back-to-back finals for the first time since 1972. Injured French players Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga cheered their team on from the bench.
World Cup Playoff Round Results:
Argentina d. Colombia 3-0
Great Britain d. Uzbekistan 3-0
Austria d. Australia 3-1
Sweden d. Switzerland 3-2
Serbia d. India 3-0
Czech Republic d. Hungary 3-2
Japan d. Bosnia/Herzegovina 3-0
Canada d. Netherlands 3-1
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