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France, Croatia reach Davis Cup semis, Nadal keeps Spain alive

Holders France reached the semi-finals of the Davis Cup for a third year in a row after Lucas Pouille came back to beat Fabio Fognini 2-6 6-1 7-6(3) 6-3 in Genoa on Sunday and clinch their tie with Italy 3-1.

Croatia also made it into the last four as Australian Open runner-up Marin Cilic crushed Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-1 6-1 6-1 to seal their tie 3-1.

Croatia will meet the United States in the semis in September following Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison’s doubles win against Belgium’s Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen on Saturday which gave the U.S. a 3-0 win.

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World number one Rafael Nadal continued his impressive return from injury by dispatching fourth-ranked Alexander Zverev of Germany in straight sets 6-1 6-4 6-4 to keep Spain’s hopes of staying in the competition alive and forcing a fifth rubber between David Ferrer and German Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Ferrer and Kohlschreiber’s match was locked at one set each at the Plaza de Toros in Valencia on Sunday, which will determine who meets France in the other last four tie.

Italian Fognini missed two chances to take the third set against Pouille, failing to serve out at 5-4 and then spurning a break point in the 11th game, prompting him to smash his racket in frustration.

French number one Pouille overpowered Fognini in the tie-break and then comfortably took the fourth set.

“I am very proud of the team and I am really relieved because the last match was so close,” France captain Yannick Noah told the competition’s official website.

“It came down to a few points in the third set. I think we have been a little lucky but it’s part of the process and we enjoy our luck.”

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