World No 1 Rafael Nadal and veteran David Ferrer completed an epic Davis Cup quarter-final fightback to defeat Germany 3-2 on Sunday.
Nadal continued his impressive return from injury by dispatching fourth-ranked Alexander Zverev in straight sets 6-1 6-4 6-4 to keep Spain’s hopes of staying in the competition alive and forcing a fifth and deciding rubber between Ferrer and Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Ferrer, 36, then rolled back the years to produced an inspired five-set five-hour 7-6 (7-1) 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-5 marathon victory against the world No 34 at the atmospheric Plaza de Toros in Valencia.
“The first set was fantastic,” Nadal said. “There were times when I lost a bit of control because the match was tough, I had not competed for a long time and to maintain the level of the first set was complicated for me. “But in general it was a very important match and I am very happy.”
Spain will next face holders France, who reached the semi-finals for a third year in a row after Lucas Pouille came back to beat Fabio Fognini 2-6 6-1 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 in Genoa on Sunday and clinch their tie with Italy 3-1.
“I won without playing my best tennis, those are the best types of victories,” Pouille said.
Croatia also made it into the last four as Australian Open runner-up Marin Cilic crushed Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-1 6-1 6-1 to seal their tie 3-1.
“Nadal said, From the beginning till the end I played on a rather high level; constant pressure, superior, aggressive,” said former US Open champion Cilic.
They will meet the United States for a place in the final in September after they became the first country to reach the semi-finals following a doubles win by Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison against Belgian debutants Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen on Saturday.