|Posted on July 11, 2009 at 3:28 AM|
Czech Republic 1 Argentina 1
World No. 20 Tomas Berdych held his nerve to prevail in a gripping encounter with Juan Monaco 6-4, 2-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 and give the Czech Republic an early 1-0 lead over 2008 runner-up Argentina in Ostrava Friday.
In a match featuring 12 breaks of serve, Berdych fought back from a two-sets-to-one deficit - hitting 41 winners and putting 92 per cent of second serves into play to edge through in three hours and 27 minutes.
"If you are struggling a little bit with the best shot in your game and you don't feel good on the court you have to really try to fight until the last point and that's what happened today," said Berdych, reflecting on his performance.
The 23-year-old Berdych improved to a 12-6 mark in Davis Cup singles play. The right-hander came into the tie with the confidence of last week having reached the Wimbledon fourth round, where he lost to eventual finalist Andy Roddick. The right-hander won his fifth ATP World Tour title in Munich (d. Youzhny) in May.
However, 2008 runner-up Argentina quickly hit back to level as No. 5-ranked Juan Martin del Potro dismissed Ivo Minar 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.
Playing in just his fifth Davis Cup tie, del Potro broke serve six times from 13 opportunities and with 32 winners hit more than double the total of Minar in the one-hour and 43-minute match. The 20 year old won his first ATP World Tour title at Auckland (d. Querrey) at the start of the season and was also a semi-finalist last month at Roland Garros (l. to Federer).
The Czech Republic is through to the quarter-finals for the second straight year and won the trophy in 1980 with victory over Italy. Meanwhile, Argentina is a three-time runner-up of the Davis Cup, most recently losing to Spain in the final last year in Mar del Plata - snapping a streak of 13 consecutive victories at home.
Croatia 2 United States 0
Croatian Ivo Karlovic won a five-set match for the first time in his career to defeat American James Blake 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3), 7-5 and give the host nation a 1-0 lead in dramatic fashion Friday at the World Group quarter-final clash on clay in Porec.
The 6'10" Karlovic struck 47 aces, just eight shy of the Open Era record of 55 he set at Roland Garros, as he overcame a nervous start to hit back in the match. The 30 year old fired 93 winners to just 31 unforced errors and broke Blake in the final game of the match to seal victory after three hours and 38 minutes.
World No. 27 Karlovic won his fourth straight singles rubber to improve to a 6-5 mark in Davis Cup. The Zagreb native is coming in on the back of two successive quarter-final efforts at The Queen's Club (l. to Roddick) and Wimbledon (l. to Federer).
Croatia became the 12th nation to win the Davis Cup in 2005, when it defeated the Slovak Republic 3-2 in the final to become the first unseeded team to triumph in World Group history.
In contrast, the United States has won the ITF men's team competition a total of 32 times, most recently in 2007.
Marin Cilic gave Croatia commanding 2-0 lead when he rallied to defeat Mardy Fish 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-1, 8-6. Fish, who had been expecting to play the ATP World Tour 250 grass-court tournament in Newport, Rhode Island this week, had been called up at short notice to replace Andy Roddick, who withdrew from the tie after his punishing run to the Wimbledon final.
The U.S.A. will now look to stalwarts Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan to keep the visitors in the tie when they play Karlovic and Lovro Zovko in Saturday's doubles rubber.
Israel 2 Russia 0
Israel took a shock 2-0 lead over two-time champion Russia after a pulsating day's play in the Davis Cup quarter-finals in Tel Aviv on Friday.
"It's an amazing result," enthused Dudi Sela. "I didn't believe that after the first day we were going to get the two points. I was expecting one point, but two is an amazing feeling and hopefully tomorrow is going to be the third one."
In the first match of the day, World No. 210 Harel Levy overcame a gap of 186 places in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings to stun No. 24 Igor Andreev 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 and give the host nation a 1-0 lead.
Levy reached a career-high South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking of No. 30 on 25 June, 2001, but after suffering a potentially career-ending hip injury later that season the right-hander had struggled to find his top form.
The 30 year old broke Andreev's serve six times and fired 32 winners, while also capitalising on 70 unforced errors from the Russian, to secure victory after two hours and 51 minutes as Andreev made a backhand error.
Dudi Sela then rallied back from a one-set deficit to defeat Mikhail Youzhny 3-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 and secure the 2-0 overnight advantage. Currently a career-high No. 33 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, Sela converted seven of 14 break point chances to wrap up the crucial victory in two hours and 48 minutes. Last week, the 24 year old posted a personal-best fourth-round effort at Wimbledon (l. to Djokovic) and was a semi-finalist at Memphis (l. to Stepanek) earlier in the season.
"I started the match a little bit nervously," confessed Sela. "He served pretty well in the first set and then as the match went on his serve got worse and I think I took advantage."
In just its eighth appearance in the World Group, Israel is on the verge of reaching the semi-finals for the first time. Russia, champion in 2002 and '06 will need to come back from 0-2 down for the first time since its 1995 semi-final victory over Germany if it is to progress.
Spain 1 Germany 1
The World Group quarter-final clash between three-time former champions Spain and Germany is finely poised at 1-1 after the first day's play on clay in Plaza de Toros de Puerto Banus, Marbella.
Defending champion Spain endured a nervous start as World No. 9 Fernando Verdasco rallied from a two-sets-to-one deficit to edge out Andreas Beck 6-0, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-1.
Despite losing the first seven games of the match, the No. 51-ranked Beck recovered to take a surprise lead in the match. Verdasco hit back though and four breaks of serve in the final two sets carried the Madrid native to victory after three hours and 10 minutes.
The 25-year-old Verdasco, coming off a fourth-round showing (l. to Karlovic) at Wimbledon, was a hero for Spain in the 2008 World Group final as he defeated Argentina's Jose Acasuso in five sets in the fourth rubber to win the trophy for his country. That success has inspired a stellar 2009 season from the left-hander, with a semi-final effort at the Australian Open (l. to Nadal) and a runner-up finish in Brisbane (l. to Stepanek) among his highlights.
Philipp Kohlschreiber hit back in the second rubber to comfortably defeat Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to clip the Spaniards' lead.
"I really played a very good match today, good tactics and also the chances I had I took them," commented Kohlschreiber. "It was really a great day."
Spain has won its past 15 ties at home and has not lost a clay-court tie in its past 17 efforts.