GENEVA: France will host Switzerland in the Davis Cup final in November but five-time champions Spain lost their World Group status on Sunday after an 18-year-stay in the elite division.
Roger Federer reached the first Davis Cup final of his career with a comfortable 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) win over Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the first of the semi-final’s reverse singles in Geneva.
That made it 3-1 for the Swiss thus ensuring they would contest the final of the annual team event for the first time since 1992, when they lost to the United States.
Andreas Seppi edged Michael Lammer 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in the remaining dead rubber to make the final score 3-2.
France made sure of playing in the final for the first time since 2010 on Saturday when their doubles team of Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Czechs Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek in four sets at Roland Garros.
The final will be played in France from November 21-23, with the northern city of Lille being touted as the likely host.
The last time the two countries met in a Davis Cup tie was in the 2004 quarter-finals when the Swiss won 3-2 at home.
“The most classical match-ups I’ve had have come against France so I’m happy,” said 17-time major winner Federer.
“We’ve had some great ties here in Switzerland so we’re very pleased to be in the finals and we’ll see how it’s going to go.
“It’s nice sharing emotions with your fans and your loved ones. You have to fight with what you’ve got and I’m happy I was able to make a difference.”
Over in Paris, the France v Czech Republic tie ended at Roland Garros in a 4-1 win for the French, Jiri Vesely defeating Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-3 before Gael Monfils beat Lukas Rosol 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 in the two “dead” rubbers.
France last won the Davis Cup in 2001 when they travelled to Australia and won 3-2.
In the play-offs, Spain’s 18-year stay in the World Group came to an end when they were defeated by Brazil in Sao Paulo.
Playing without injured superstar Rafael Nadal as well as fellow top 10 player David Ferrer, Spain also lost their first tie on clay since 1999.
Thomaz Bellucci won the crucial point for Brazil with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Roberto Bautista Agut which gave the home side an insurmountable 3-1 lead.
Bellucci won his 14th Davis Cup rubber in 16 on clay making a mockery of the world rankings in the process. He is at 83 compared to the 15 of Bautista Agut.
Spain won the Davis Cup in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011 and were runners-up in 2003 and 2012.
US Open champion Marin Cilic guided 2005 champions Croatia to a 3-2 win over the Netherlands in Amsterdam.
Cilic defeated Thiemo de Bakker 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 after Dutch number one Robin Haase had earlier kept Dutch hopes alive by coming back to defeat Mate Delic 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.
In Perth, Nick Kyrgios and Sam Groth wrapped up a 5-0 clean sweep for Australia in their play-off against Uzbekistan.
Bad weather halted the decisive fifth rubber after Serbia and hosts India were locked 2-2 in Bangalore.
Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic was leading Yuki Bhambri 6-3, 4-4 in the second reverse singles when heavy rain forced play to be abandoned until Monday.
Somdev Devvarman earlier rallied past Dusan Lajovic 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to level the tie after India had trailed 2-0 after Friday’s opening singles.
In Tallinn, David Goffin defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 to give Belgium the winning point against Ukraine.
The United States completed a 5-0 rout of Slovakia, Canada beat Colombia while Argentina edged Israel 3-2.