Spain take commanding Davis Cup lead over France

    Rafael Nadal was in devastating form as he crushed Richard Gaquet in the opening rubber

    Story highlights

    • Spain lead France 2-0 after the opening singles rubbers in Cordoba
    • Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer crush their opponents for the loss of just 10 games
    • Holders Serbia trail Argentina 2-0 after Novak Djokovic withdraws from opener
    Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer have put Spain on the brink of reaching the Davis Cup final after winning their opening two singles rubbers against France in convincing fashion.
    With the red clay of Cordoba suiting the Spanish duo perfectly, world number two Nadal -- showing no ill effects from losing the final of the U.S. Open to Novak Djokovic earlier this week -- set the ball rolling with a crushing 6-3 6-0 6-1 success over Richard Gasquet.
    And Ferrer doubled Spain's advantage, brushing aside Gilles Simon 6-1 6-4 6-1, to leave the four-times champions needing just a win in Saturday's doubles rubber to reach the final.
    Despite searing heat, Nadal never allowed Gasquet time to get into their match, with the 10-time grand slam winner telling reporters he was delighted with his performance, considering he felt tired.
    "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," said Nadal.
    "There were moments where he helped me in making mistakes, not forcing me to play long points. My service was working well and that made me feel much more comfortable," added the Spanish No.1.
    A despondent Gasquet added: "Even a tired Nadal remains an exceptional player. I couldn't find a way past him. It's a defeat that really hurts."
    Spain are attempting to reach the final for the third time in four years, and are favorites to take the trophy with two of the world's top five players amongst their ranks.
    They are also well on their way to avenging last year's 5-0 whitewash quarterfinal defeat to France
    Spanish doubles specialists Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco can now finish the job on Saturday when they go up against Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
    Meanwhile, defending champions Serbia have a mountain to climb in order to retain their title after losing the opening two singles rubbers of their semifinal against Argentina in front of 15,000 partisan fans in Belgrade.
    David Nalbandian set Argentina on their way with a 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-3 success over Victor Troicki, who replaced Djokovic in the opening singles after the world No.1 complained of fatigue and a back injury.
    Then, former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro saw off Janko Tipsarevic 7-5 6-3 6-4 to put Argentina within one victory of a place in the final.
    Nalbandian told reporters he only knew of Djokovic's absence 30 minutes before the match started. "But I knew yesterday that I had to be prepared to play anyone. We are well prepared, in good form, and ready to write history."