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Title holders France beat Italy to clinch Davis Cup semi-finals

Marco Bertorello, AFP | The French squad celebrates after defeating hosts Italy at the Valletta Cambiaso in Genova on April 8, 2018.

Lucas Pouille kept his focus when Italy's Fabio Fognini began throwing his racket in frustration during a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory that put France into the Davis Cup semi-finals on Sunday.

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Defending champions France took an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five series with Italy.

Fognini threw his racket twice upon failing to take advantage of opportunities late in the third set.

On the first occasion, Fognini slammed his racket on the red clay court then broke it clean in half across his knee.

A couple of points later, after Pouille saved three set points to even the set at 5-5, Fognini threw his racket into a courtside chair in the vicinity of a ball boy.

In the fourth set, France captain Yannick Noah protested to the chair umpire when the crowd attempted to bother Pouille while he served.

That prompted the umpire to make an announcement urging silence and sportsmanship.

"The fans were incredible," the 11th-ranked Pouille said. "They were fair and they were just noisy for us."

Pouille served well under pressure, hitting seven aces overall to Fognini's two. The Frenchman also committed only 16 unforced errors to Fognini's 28.

"I think I was more consistent over the match," Pouille said. "I had a tough first set but I kept trying and was playing better and better and it was a great effort to come back and win this one."

It's the third straight year that France have reached the semifinals.

"I'm sure we are going to have some good wine," Noah said of his team's celebration plans.

France will next meet either Spain or Germany.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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