Spain crash as Djokovic leads Serbs into semis

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Defending champions Spain slumped to a 5-0 whitewash by France as world number two Novak Djokovic lead Serbia into the Davis Cup semi-finals for the first time

Updated: July 12, 2010 06:42 IST
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Paris :

Defending champions Spain slumped to a 5-0 whitewash by France as world number two Novak Djokovic lead Serbia into the Davis Cup semi-finals for the first time after a 4-1 win over Croatia on Sunday.

Djokovic earned the decisive point by beating Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in the first singles match of the day in the coastal town of Split.

"Moments in life that can be compared with this one are rare, very rare. I believe that we are writing Serbia's tennis history," the 23-year-old Djokovic said. "This is one of the greatest days in my career."

In their first ever semi-final, Serbia will play against the Czech Republic at home in September after they booked their last-four berth by beating hosts Chile 4-1.

"I'm glad that we will play the semi-final at home, in Belgrade Arena in front of 20,000 fans. It's a huge difference, a big advantage when you are playing in front of your own crowd," Djokovic said.

"We felt that ourselves here in Split."

Djokovic did not offer his opponent any chance and built up a 5-0 lead in the first set to give an early hint at the outcome of the match. The other two sets had a similar scenario paving the way for the Serb's final triumph over an uncertain Cilic.

In the opening match of the tie between the former Balkan foes on Friday Djokovic beat Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 6-1, and Cilic saw off Serb Viktor Troicki 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.

Doubles duo Nenad Zimonjic and Janko Tipsarevic beat their Croatain opponents Cilic and Ivan Dodig 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 on Saturday in the third of the best-of-five rubbers.

In the final dead rubber on Sunday Tipsarevic beat Croat Antonio Veic 6-2, 7-6 (7/5).

In Clermont Ferrand, the French achieved their first win over the Spaniards, missing world number one Rafael Nadal, since 1923, and will next meet Argentina who beat Russia 3-2 in Moscow.

France's Julien Benneteau and Gilles Simon won their dead rubbers against Feliciano Lopez and Nicolas Almagro in straight sets, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 and 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (9/7) respectively.

Doubles pairing Michael Llodra and Benneteau had given the French an unassailable 3-0 lead on Saturday with Gael Monfils and Michael Llodra beating David Ferrer and Verdasco in Friday's singles.

In Coquimbo, Ivo Minar defeated Chilean debutant Cristobal Saavedra-Corvalan 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 to seal a 4-1 win for Czech Republic as they bid for their second straight final.

Before Minar took to the court, Jorge Aguilar had lifted the hosts when he beat Lukas Dlouhy 6-1, 7-6 (8/6) to get Chile off the mark.

The Czech Republic had sealed their semi-final berth on Saturday when Jan Hajek teamed up with Dlouhy to defeat Nicolas Massu and Aguilar 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

The visitors brushed off the absence of their top two players Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych and got off to a winning start when Hajek and Minar recorded routine singles victories on the opening day.

In Moscow, David Nalbandian led Argentina into the semi-finals after a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-3 victory over Mikhail Youzhny in the deciding rubber against Russia.

The victory for the South Americans ended Russia's 17-match winning streak in the Davis Cup on home turf, which started after the 1995 defeat in the final at the hands of the United States.

Earlier on Sunday, world number six Nikolay Davydenko battled back from a set down to defeat Eduardo Schwank 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to level the overall scores at 2-2.

On Saturday Schwank and Horacio Zeballos lifted Argentina 2-1 up beating Davydenko and Igor Kunitsyn 7-6 (9/7), 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-1.

Nalbandian had put Argentina into the lead beating Davydenko 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8/6), while Youzhny put Russia back on track beating Leonardo Mayer 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 on Friday.

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