Defending champ France advances to Davis Cup final

Mahut and Benneteau celebrate with France's team captain Yannick Noah

And he made it count Friday.

Marin Cilic doubled his nation's lead as he gave Frances Tiafoe a tough Davis Cup baptism, beating the debutant 6-1 6-3 7-6 (7-5) to pick up a landmark point in his career.

Croatia leads the U.S. 2-0 after Friday's opening singles matches.

Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut delivered the doubles victory that sent reigning Davis Cup champions France back to the final, but Croatia were unable to claim the win they needed to advance against the United States.

Paire had never been selected for his country in the "World Cup of tennis" before, admitting himself that his explosive, erratic performances on court meant he could previously never properly be trusted.

"I've waited a long time for this", said smiled Paire, the world number 54 who showed no signs of the hot-headed streak that cost him a $16,500 fine for an epic three-smashed-racket meltdown in Washington last month.

If Croatia, who lead the other semi-final in Zadar 2-1 going into Sunday's final day, complete their expected victory, the final will again be in France, possibly back in the same Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

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Lucas Pouille's nerve-jangling five-set victory - 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 - over Roberto Bautista-Agut in the following match made it 2-0.

"I never had the choice before now and though it's been a long time, hopefully it's not too late for me and I'll get more chances".

France's Benoit Paire reacts during his match against Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta.

The Spaniard staved off two match points and created a break point in that last game, but the Frenchman reeled off the last three points to win the match in three hours and 41 minutes.

"We were sweating blood for every point and in the end it was decided on minor details", he explained.

Still, Pouille was rewarded for his boldness, earning the key break at 4-4 in the fifth.

Spain coach Sergi Bruguera said he was very proud of his team despite the scoreline.

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