Ferrero and Santoro face off next

Updated: September 24, 2004, 5:30 PM ET

ALICANTE, Spain -- Paul-Henri Mathieu pulled off a remarkable 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory against Spanish No. 1 Carlos Moya to give France a 1-0 lead on the opening day of their Davis Cup semifinal on Friday.

Mathieu, ranked 71 places below Moya and playing on the Spaniard's favorite clay-court surface, came back from 2-0 down in the final set to lead 4-3, saved two break points to move 5-3 ahead and broke Moya again in the final game to complete an unlikely win.

Moya started badly, losing the first set in 48 minutes and falling a break down in the second.

He pulled himself together to win the second and third sets, but Mathieu clawed his way back to force a decider via a break in game five of the fourth set.

Mathieu appeared to be wilting in the fierce heat at Alicante's bullring as he fell 2-0 behind, but he fought back once again and showed great maturity to complete the victory in four hours 29 minutes with the vast majority of the 10,000 crowd cheering for Moya.

In the second match, Ferrero attempted to erase Spain's deficit quickly, winning the first two sets easily. In the third, Frenchman Fabrice Santoro fought back to take the third, 6-1.

The match was eventually suspended due to poor light with the score tied at 3-3 in the fourth. It will be completed on Saturday before the scheduled doubles contest between Rafael Nadal and Tommy Robredo of Spain and Santoro and Michael Llodra of France.

The winners of the tie will play either the United States or Belarus in the final.