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Nadal beats Tsonga to put Spain in Davis Cup final

 Spain's Rafael Nadal serves to France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match in the bullring in Cordoba, Spain, Sunday, Sept...
 France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga serves to Spain's Rafael Nadal during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match in the bullring in Cordoba, Spain, Sunday, Sept...
 Spain's Rafael Nadal plays a shot during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the bullring in Cordoba, Spain, S...
 Spain's Rafael Nadal plays a shot during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the bullring in Cordoba, Spain, S...

Spain France Tennis Davis Cup

Spain's Rafael Nadal serves to France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match in the bullring in Cordoba, Spain, Sunday, Sept...

Spain France Tennis Davis Cup

France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga serves to Spain's Rafael Nadal during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match in the bullring in Cordoba, Spain, Sunday, Sept...

Spain France Tennis Davis Cup

Spain's Rafael Nadal plays a shot during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the bullring in Cordoba, Spain, S...

Spain France Tennis Davis Cup

Spain's Rafael Nadal plays a shot during a Davis Cup semi-final tennis match against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the bullring in Cordoba, Spain, S...

Rafael Nadal put Spain into the Davis Cup final after demolishing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-0, 6-2, 6-4 for an insurmountable lead against France in their semifinal encounter.
Nadal complained of fatigue coming into the series but showed no symptoms as he dominated the 10th-ranked Frenchman on the outdoor clay at Cordoba's bullring to give the hosts a chance at a third title in four years. Spain won 4-1 after Fernando Verdasco beat Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-1 in the final reverse singles.
Tsonga replaced Gilles Simon for the reverse singles match after an impressive doubles victory but was frustrated by 50 unforced errors, especially a misfiring backhand as France won just 16 games over three singles matches.
"Simply put, Rafa was just too good this weekend," Tsonga said. "He's the best player ever on clay court, I think, he's practically unbeatable on this surface and today we didn't create the exception."
Spain will host Argentina in the Dec. 2-4 final after Novak Djokovic retired while trailing to Juan Martin Del Potro in the fourth singles rubber for the Argentines to set an insurmountable 3-1 lead.
Tsonga's erratic play against a player who has won 32 titles on clay left little doubt over the result as Nadal served out the victory in 2 hours, 17 minutes when Tsonga shot wide.
Nadal, who never faced a break point, is now 14-0 on clay and 18-1 in Davis Cup singles play. Nadal was a member of three of Spain's four title-winning teams and leads it into its sixth final since 2000 and eighth overall.
"You might think it gets easier to win but it doesn't," Nadal said after allowing Tsonga just six points on his serve. "Thanks to the excellent relations inside the team the Spanish players have stayed united over the years to keep winning."
Nadal has complained about the overcrowded tennis calendar sapping his stamina as he raced from his U.S. Open final defeat to Novak Djokovic in New York on Monday to rout Richard Gasquet on Friday. But on Sunday, Nadal was energized and playing all of Tsonga's shots except for the many that landed out as he scored nearly twice as many points as his opponent, while hitting just eight unforced errors.
"He had a tough time keeping the ball in," said Nadal, whose lone defeat came in his debut in 2004. "It was tough to play in this heat."
Tsonga started with an ace but Nadal closed that first game with the first of six break points to ignite the boisterous crowd, which launched into chants of "Torero" (Bullfighter) throughout the afternoon at the Los Califas bullring that is normally filled by bullfighting aficionados.
Nadal clinched three break points in the first set after Tsonga sent a backhand into the net, doublefaulted and finally sent a backhand wide.
Tsonga switched to serve-and-volley with some success as both players held serve to start the second set until Tsonga hit a forehand long while facing a triple-break point in the fifth game. Nadal was ahead and broke again in the seventh game when his opponent sent another backhand wide.
"He pushes you to make mistakes. It looks like I'm making errors but he's the one pushing you to make those," the Frenchman said. "It's really hard to return his shot. It's less the surface than how Rafa hits his shot."
The six-time French Open champion closed out the set by hitting a forehand down the line for one of 21 winners on the afternoon, when the temperature dropped slightly from previous days to 30 degrees Celsius (86 F).
Tsonga managed to hold until the seventh game of the final set when he raced forward to smash into the net to give Nadal a double-break opportunity. The second-ranked Spaniard converted his final break when the Frenchman volleyed his backhand wide.
The final will take place in Spain with Valencia and Madrid reportedly interested in hosting the event.


Updated : 2021-10-18 02:07 GMT+08:00