|Rafael Nadal of Spain waits for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France to serve during their Davis Cup World Group semi-final match at the Cordoba bullring September 18, 2011. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo
Rafael Nadal has sent Spain back to the Davis Cup final after a straight-set victory over France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the opening reverse singles match of their semifinal tie on Sunday.
Nadal dominated early and cruised the rest of the way in a 6-0, 6-2, 6-4 win, giving the Spaniards an insurmountable 3-1 edge in the best-of-five matchup. Fernando Verdasco then finished off the victory for Spain with a 6-2, 6-1 triumph over Richard Gasquet in the dead rubber.
Spain has won four of the last 11 Davis Cup titles and will try for another crown in December against Argentina, which dethroned 2010 champion Serbia in the other semifinal. The Spaniards last won it all in 2009, routing the Czech Republic in the final by a 5-0 decision, and also claimed the coveted chalice in 2008, 2004 and 2000.
Tsonga had teamed with Michael Llodra on Saturday for a doubles victory over the Spanish tandem of Feliciano Lopez and Verdasco to keep France's slim hopes alive.
But Nadal was at his best Sunday on his beloved red clay and had little trouble in disposing of the 10th-ranked Frenchman. The 10-time Grand Slam champ committed just eight unforced errors, while Tsonga had a whopping 50. Nadal also won all but six of his 54 service points.
Coming off a disappointing loss to Novak Djokovic in the final of the U.S. Open on Monday, Nadal won both of his matches this weekend and improved to 18-1 overall in Davis Cup singles play, including 14-0 on clay. He also claimed the first point for Spain on Friday with a 6-3, 6-0, 6-1 pounding of Richard Gasquet.
David Ferrer then followed on Friday with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 pasting of Gilles Simon to give Spain a comfortable 2-0 edge after the first day.
France played this weekend without injured Gael Monfils, ranked seventh in the world. The French reached last year's Davis Cup final, losing to Serbia, and still haven't won the title since the last of its nine Davis Cup crowns in 2001.
Spain improved to 6-2 all-time against France in Davis Cup competition.