Argentina into Davis Cup semifinals

AP, Saturday 9 Jul 2011

Argentina became the first country to reach the Davis Cup semifinals after taking an unbeatable 3-0 lead against Kazakhstan on Friday, while Serbia, Spain and France look set to follow as both moved 2-0 ahead in the quarterfinals

Davis Cup
Lopez of Spain reacts after a point against Fish of the U.S. during their singles Davis Cup tennis match in Austin, Texas (Photo by REUTERS)

Argentina, which started the five-match series a day early due to elections on Sunday in Buenos Aires, followed up Thursday’s singles wins with a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 victory for Juan Ignacio Chela and Eduardo Schwank over Evgeny Korolev and Yuriy Schukin in the doubles.

Their reward is a place in the semifinals against Sweden or Serbia, with the latter looking the most likely opponent after Friday’s wins for Viktor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic in Halmstad.

Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils put France in command against Germany, and on course for what looks like a semifinal against Spain, which took a 2-0 lead over the United States as David Ferrer downed Andy Roddick in straight sets and Feliciano Lopez edged Mardy Fish in five sets.

Argentina had been given an ideal start to its quarterfinal after Juan Monaco and Juan Martin Del Potro won their opening singles matches, and although the Kazakhs led 4-2 in the final set on Friday, the home pair steadied and won in straight sets on the red outdoor clay at Parque Roca, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

Argentina, which has reached the semifinals seven times in the past 10 seasons, has never won the Davis Cup. It was runner-up in 1981, 2006 and 2008.

In Sweden, Troicki overcame a late challenge by Michael Ryderstedt to win 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (6), 7-5, but there was no such exertion needed by Tipsarevic after Sweden’s Ervin Eleskovic retired with a knee injury in the second set.

Tipsarevic, who replaced top-ranked Novak Djokovic on the Serbian team, won the first set 6-2 and was 1-0 up when the Swede fell awkwardly while trying to return a second serve on the indoor hardcourt in Halmstad.

Eleskovic’s left knee folded as he tried to move into position to return Tipsarevic’s serve. He grimaced in pain as he was carried off the court. Sweden team officials said Eleskovic’s knee cap had popped out of place and that he would be taken to a hospital.

“It’s a horrible way to win,” said Tipsarevic who was called up at short notice after Djokovic withdrew from the singles match citing problems with his left knee. “I really feel sorry first for Ervin … and for the Swedish team. This is not the way I wanted to win.”

Sweden’s Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt are due to face Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic in the doubles match on Saturday.

Monfils sealed France’s 2-0 lead in Stuttgart, beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4 after Gasquet’s unlikely 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 comeback win over a cramping Florian Mayer in the first singles.

“I didn’t play that well but I won and that’s what’s important,” said Gasquet, who was one game away from defeat.

France was the runner-up last year, when it lost to Serbia in the final, while Germany is looking for its first semifinal since 2007. France has a 6-2 record against Germany and has not lost to its neighbor since 1938.

In Texas, Ferrer gave Spain a 2-0 lead over the US, beating Roddick 7-6 (11), 7-5, 6-3.

Ferrer came from a break down in the first set to win the tiebreaker 11-9. He was again down 3-0 in the second before wearing down the big-serving American, who doubled-faulted on the final two points of the match.

Playing as the No. 2 for Spain, Lopez needed three match points to finally see off Fish 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 8-6 in the opening match.

Spain is seeking its third Davis Cup championship in four years, but is without world No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who is skipping the quarterfinal after losing in the Wimbledon final. Nadal helped Spain win the Davis Cup in 2004, 2008 and 2009.

Lopez provided the first sign that Spain would not be vulnerable without its best player, silencing the raucous home crowd early by taking the first set of a rugged four-hour match.

Fish brought the crowd back into it by tearing through the tiebreaker in the fourth set.

Lopez appeared to be on his heels but slugged out a tense fifth set. Lopez and Fish traded service breaks in the first two games. Lopez broke Fish again in the final game. They combined for 64 aces in the match.

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