Nadal, Ferrer have French on rack

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Cordoba (Spain), Sep 17: Rafael Nadal cast off fatigue and his US Open final loss to Novak Djokovic to thrash Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-0 6-1 in on Sep 16 opening rubber of the Davis Cup semi-final as Spain took a 2-0 lead over France.

David Ferrer then defeated Gilles Simon 6-1 6-4 6-1 to leave four-times champions Spain needing just a win in Sep 17 (today) doubles at the Cordoba bullring to ensure their place in the final.

It was one way traffic from the start as world number two Nadal blitzed Gasquet and Ferrer destroyed Simon as the Spaniards brutally underlined their status of favourites on home clay as they look to book a final against either defending champions Serbia or Argentina, who were facing off in Belgrade.

Nadal had admitted to tiredness after his US Open final defeat but said that "if I come, it is above all to defend my country."

He gave Gasquet no chance in 30 degrees Celsuis heat, breaking the Frenchman at the first time of asking and never giving his rival the hint of a chance before an enthusiastic 10,000 crowd.

"Even tired Nadal remains an exceptional player," said Gasquet.

"I couldn''t find a way past him. It's a defeat that hurts," added the French player after his tenth loss in as many meetings with the Spaniard.

Nadal said: "That worked out well, I managed to play with a cool head and do what I had to do throughout without losing concentration for a minute.

"Luckily everything worked out fine and we are 1-0 ahead, which is important."

PTI

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