BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — David Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos won a three-hour doubles to give Argentina a 2-1 lead over France in the Davis Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.

The Argentine pair defeated the more accomplished Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-3 on the outdoor red clay at Parque Roca.

Argentina can beat France for the first time on Sunday when Juan Monaco faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first reverse singles. The second has Carlos Berlocq facing Gilles Simon.

"Being up 2-1 is something not many expected," Nalbandian added. "Each time we are a little closer."

Nalbandian and Zeballos won their third straight cup doubles as a team, while Nalbandian improved to 12-1 on clay in cup doubles.

"I think we played a very good — I mean very good — match," Nalbandian said. "It wasn't easy. We had to find energy from I don't know where."

Meanwhile, Benneteau and Llodra, who have two ATP titles together, lost in Davis Cup for the third time in seven matches.

Nalbandian and Zeballos, perhaps feeling the early pressure, played tentatively and dropped the first set despite intense fan support from a near sellout at Parque Roca.

Nalbandian improved his serve in the second set with Argentina taking the tiebreaker, providing momentum for the third set on a cool, breezy day.

The Argentine pair played their best tennis in the final set, overpowering the dispirited French with fans chanting "Ole, ole, ole" as victory neared.

The winner will face either the Czech Republic or Kazakhstan in the semifinals in September.

 

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