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TENNIS

Ferrer lifts Spain past U.S. and into Davis Cup final

Spain is back in the Davis Cup final after David Ferrer earned the clinching point in the defending champions' semifinal tie against the United States with a four-set win over American John Isner in the first reverse singles match.

Ferrer rebounded from an early deficit and claimed a 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory on Sunday to give the host nation an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five tie. It ended that way as the final singles match was not played.

"I'm very happy, this is a dream for me, another Davis Cup final," said Ferrer on the court afterward. "I want to enjoy this moment. I'm very happy."

The Spaniards had opened a 2-0 lead on Friday after singles wins by Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro, but the Americans stayed alive Saturday thanks to a doubles victory by Mike and Bob Bryan.

Isner, the hero of the first two U.S. Davis Cup victories this year, tried to continue the comeback on Sunday and took the first set in a tiebreaker, but Ferrer broke twice in the second set, then picked up the lone break in the third for a 4-3 lead and dominated the fourth set.

After Isner held serve in the first game of the fourth, Ferrer took control by winning the next five. Isner managed to hold once more before Ferrer closed it out and improved to 21-4 all-time in Davis Cup singles, including 16-0 on clay.

"I gave him an inch and he took about 20 yards," said Isner, who committed a whopping 70 unforced errors. "He was very good today. He returned my serve exceptionally well and made me return a lot of balls, and in the end he was the better player."

The Spaniards, playing this weekend without injured superstar Rafael Nadal, still reached their seventh Davis Cup final since winning the coveted trophy for the first time in 2000. They also won in 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011, while falling in the 2003 title series.

Next up will be the Czech Republic in November. The Czechs topped Argentina in the other semifinal.

Spain beat Argentina for the title last year and topped the Czechs in the 2009 final.

The Spaniards also continued their home dominance in Davis Cup play, winning their 24th straight tie on native soil dating back to a 1999 loss to Brazil.

Spain improved to 6-5 against the U.S. in Davis Cup play, winning the last three matchups.

"It was a great battle between two of the best teams in the world, no doubt," said U.S. captain Jim Courier. "Spain's obviously the high watermark in Davis Cup in the last 15 years. We knew it was going to be a very tricky tie for us."

It was a good run for the Americans, who had beaten Switzerland and France on clay in the first two Davis Cup ties earlier this year. The U.S. won the last of its record 32 Davis Cup titles in 2007.