Spain advance to first Davis Cup final in 33 years

Spain ended more than three decades of Davis Cup anguish today, reaching the final with a sweep of an American squad cobbled together together by captain John McEnroe after the pullout of its best players.

Spain ended more than three decades of Davis Cup anguish today, reaching the final with a sweep of an American squad cobbled together together by captain John McEnroe after the pullout of its best players.

Alex Corretja and Juan Balcells clinched the best-of-5 series and set off a delirious dancing celebration with a 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3 doubles victory over Todd Martin and Chris Woodruff that rendered Sunday's singles matches meaningless.

Spain, a Davis Cup finalist only in 1965 and 1967, will play for its first title against Australia in Barcelona in December.

On a cooler, cloudier day than Friday's thick heat at this seaside resort near Bilbao, Corretja and Balcells saved four set points in the opener before taking the set on their first opportunity in the tiebreaker when Balcells put away a volley.

Spain appeared on its way to winning in four sets, but the Americans pushed it to a tiebreaker and won that when Woodruff nailed a volley at set point.

After an exchange of breaks to 3-3 in the fifth set, Spain won the final 10 points to close the match. The last three points came on crushing volley winners by the 25-year-old Balcells, disparaged memorably by McEnroe before the series began with the comment, "Who the hell is Balcells?"

None of the Spanish players was alive the last time Spain got this far, and it didn't matter to any of them that this triumph came against an American team depleted by injuries to Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.

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