Nadal sends Spain back to Davis Cup final

Rafael Nadal sent Spain back to the Davis 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 at home 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. The 2008 title came in the final at Argentina.

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.

"I think I played well, I didn't have mistakes," said Nadal. "I just tried to be focused all the time."

Tsonga did not play in Friday's opening singles, but replaced Gilles Simon in Sunday's lineup. He did not win a point on Nadal's serve in the opening set.

"Rafa just played unbelievable," said Tsonga. "He was really aggressive, and was everywhere on the court. It was really difficult for me."

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 Gasquet.

David Ferrer then followed on Friday with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 pasting of 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.