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Davis Cup

Argentina stun Russia; Serbia dumps Croatia to advance to Semi-finals of Davis Cup

david_nalbandian.jpgOne December day at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, a 24-year old Argentine looked on helplessly from the sidelines as Russian Marat Safin denied the South Americans in the finals of the Davis Cup. The forlorn look on his face painted a picture of pain, not being able to carry his nation through despite winning both his rubbers was tearing at his heart. David Nalbandian has seen life turn full circle, the winter of 2006 can now be consigned to the corridors of distant memory. With a place in the semi-final at stake, the Argentine played vintage tennis for two and a half hours to outsmart an in-form Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets and hand his nation a thrilling 3-2 victory in the final rubber of an intensely competitive tie that went to the wire. In Split, Novak Djokovic was too good for Marin Cilic as Serbia made its first semi-finals in their young Davis Cup journey. Janko Tipsarevic made it a famous 4-1 triumph for the Serbians, as emphatic as it could be given that they were playing away from home.

Nikolay Davydenko had injury to blame for a season of lame tennis, but he had nowhere to hide in this Davis Cup tie. The focus was firmly on his lanky frame and having lost both the rubbers thus far, it was expected that he will do everything to keep the Russians alive going into the final rubber on Sunday. He did just that, but not without a hiccup. The Argentine captain replaced Leonardo Mayer with Eduardo Schwank for the reverse singles. Schwank took advantage of one of only two break points in the entire first set to take it 6-4, and pile the pressure on Davydenko. And he responded with typical grit by breaking Schwank a second time, after they had exchanged breaks earlier in the second set. The Russian was serving much better as the match progressed and cutting down on the unforced errors to slowly but surely find a strong footing. He was a much improved player in the third set, only making four errors on his way to routing the Argentine for the loss of just a single game. As the tension mounted, Davydenko held his nerve to clinch the rubber in the fourth set, by virtue of a single break to take the tie into a nail biting fifth rubber.

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France and Czech Republic through to Davis Cup Semi-finals; Argentina on the brink of an upset victory

julien_benneteau.jpgThe mild mannered Frenchman Guy Forget is a soft spoken gentleman, rich in the experience of turning tables on his fancied opponents. Almost twenty years ago, Forget partnered Henri Leconte to win the doubles rubber to earn a 2-1 head start against a heavily favoured US team. The next morning, the likeable Frenchman dug deep to defeat a certain Pete Sampras to give France a much celebrated Davis Cup title in 1991. As the captain now, Forget must have drawn on his immense wealth to make the underdogs in his team believe in the unthinkable. And the team repaid his faith in kind, swamping the Spanish at the indoor arena in Clermont-Ferrand, adding the doubles rubber to claim a 3-0 victory over the two time defending champions. In a story of similar fortitude the Czech team demolished Chile to join France in the semi-finals. The reverse singles on Sunday is now just a formal feast in the garden. The other two quarter-finals though will be decided on Sunday, with Argentina the unlikely 2-1 leaders against the hosts Russia and Serbia in a 2-1 lead against Croatia in Split.

Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra arrived on court expecting a reversal against a committed Spanish team that was represented by Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez. But inspired by the noisy support from home fans the French duo played a remarkable game of doubles to draw away from the Spanish who were finding it difficult to work as a team. Barely an hour into the doubles rubber, the French wrapped up the first two sets, for the loss of just three games. And when they raced away to a 4-2 lead in the third set, the semi-final spot was almost a few fingers away from their grasp.

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Davis Cup Quarter-finals Friday Wrap: French keep the Spanish under check; Argentina and Czech Republic spring surprises

gael_monfils.jpgOn the first day of the Davis Cup quarter-finals the wonderful dynamics of team competition came to the fore - the French made the most of playing at home by taking a 2-0 lead against the mighty Spanish; the 153rd ranked David Nalbandian found inspiration in his national colours to defeat world number six Nikolay Davydenko and give Argentina a fighting chance in Moscow; Czech players made the absence of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek irrelevant by overcoming the challenge of playing away from home on the slow Chilean clay to take an unexpected 2-0 lead. The Balkan neighbours refused to cede any ground in their battle for supremacy in Split - Croatia and Serbia split the first two rubbers to keep it tight and even.

David Ferrer has already played 50 matches this year, winning 38 of them. When he took the first three games against Gael Monfils, it felt as though he would lead Spain to a solid start despite the surface and partisan noises favouring the French. Monfils took time to get to the party, but when he did he won 9 of the next twelve games and the tie break in between to jump ahead by a set and 3-0 in the second. He won the second set for the loss of just two games. Ferrer though refused to give up, fighting his way back into the match, one game at a time. Ferrer improved his first serve percentage dramatically in the third and fourth sets to even the rubber.

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India to host Brazil in Davis Cup World Group Play-offs

somdev_devvarman_2.jpgThe draw for the Davis Cup World Group Play-offs, to be held from 17-19 September, was announced on Tuesday.

India, one of the eight seeded teams in the draw will host Brazil. The two countries have met twice before, each picking up a win. Their first meeting was way back in 1966 when India, with the help of Ramanathan Krishnan, Jaideep Mukerjea and S.P.Misra, beat Brazil 3-2 in a thrilling encounter. The second meeting was in 1991 when Brazill got their own back, winning comfortably 4-1.

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Kazakhstan, Romania qualify for Davis Cup World Group Play-offs

andrey_golubev.jpgThe World Group Play-offs to be played from 17th to 19th of September will decide the eight countries that will make it to Davis Cup's elite World Group for the year 2011. The Play-offs will be played between the first round losers of the World Group 2010 (Switzerland, Germany, India, Sweden, Ecuador, United States, Israel and Belgium) and winners of the Group 1 second round completed this weekend (Brazil, Columbia, Australia, Kazakhstan, Italy, South Africa, Austria and Romania).

From the 7th - 9th of May, six Group 1 second round ties were conducted. By Saturday the 8th of May, four of those six ties had found winners, with Brazil, Italy, Australia and South Africa all having taken commanding 3-0 leads over their opponents, thereby sealing their places for the Play-offs. However two ties remained alive on Sunday which included the ones between China and Kazakhstan and Ukraine and Romania.

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