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Pouille wins five-setter to put France on brink of Davis Cup final

© AFP | France's Lucas Pouille gestures to the crowd after clinching the hosts' second point in their Davis Cup semi-final against Spain

VILLENEUVE-D'ASCQ (FRANCE) (AFP) - 

Lucas Pouille dug deep to deny Roberto Bautista-Agut in five sets to give France both points on the opening day of their Davis Cup semi-final against Spain on Friday.

The French number one fought back from losing the first set to see off the Spaniard 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 at Lille's Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

He took to the court with the hosts and defending champions already off the mark after Benoit Paire enjoyed a dream Davis Cup debut with a 7-5, 6-1, 6-0 defeat of Pablo Carreno Busta in Friday's opening rubber.

France captain Yannick Noah had admitted on the eve of competition that handing Paire a Davis Cup debut in a semi-final was "not an easy choice" but the gamble paid off handsomely.

His win, with Paire doubling up, leaves France 2-0 and heading for a final against either Croatia or the United States in November.

Croatia lead USA by an identical 2-0 margin going into Saturday's middle day doubles.

© 2018 AFP