Tag Archive | "Davis Cup"

Federer and Tsonga Aid In Preserving Their Countries’ World Group Standing For 2010

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Federer and Tsonga Aid In Preserving Their Countries’ World Group Standing For 2010


img_0942This weekend, the world group playoffs sorted out which eight nations would be eligible to compete against the seeded teams for the coveted Davis cup in 2010.  Team Switzerland, headed by world number one Roger Federer, defeated Italy while France’s workhorse turned out to be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Battling the Netherlands, Tsonga was instrumental in three out of four victories.

Besides Federer, the Swiss had top 30 singles player Stanislas Wawrinka to rely on.  As a packed Italian house looked on Friday, Wawrinka defeated Andreas Seppi 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in the initial rubber.  Later, Federer took care of Simone Bolelli 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.  With its top singles players sitting out the doubles Saturday, Switzerland had its lead narrowed by Italy’s win.  However on Sunday, unfazed by a rain delay, Federer beat Potito Starace 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 to secure his country’s crack at the cup next year.

In the Netherlands, after countryman Gael Monfils lost the opening match against Thiemo De Bakker; Tsonga  prevailed 7-6, 6-2, 7-6 over Jesse Huta Galung to level the contest. Then, Saturday, Tsonga joined forces with Michael Llodra to eclipse team Netherlands 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4.  Sunday, Tsonga avenged Monfils’ failure with a 7-6, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 win over De Bakker.  Although that victory was enough to seal France’s spot in the world group, Jeremy Chardy capped the day by carrying the last rubber.

Serbia playing at home against Uzbekistan had more than enough fire power despite the absence of Novak Djokovic.  With only one singles player in the top 100, Uzbekistan tried its best, but had no answer to the combo of Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic, Nenad Zimonjic and Ilia Bozoljac. Serbia won all five matches.

On Friday, India taking on South Africa in the latter’s backyard build a 2-0 lead courtesy of victories by Smoved Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna. Subsequently, Saturday, Jeff Coetzee and Wesley Moodie got South Africa on the board by carrying the doubles.  Yet, Sunday, after Rik De Voest went ahead two sets to zero, Devvarman stormed back taking the next three sets to maintain India’s world group status.

After Andreas Vinciguerra down 6-7, 6-7 had to retire against Romanian Victor Hanescu, the Swedish crowd was uplifted as Robin Soderling defeated Victor Crivoi 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 to put that nation on level footing. The following day, Soderling paired with Robert Lindstedt to beat Horia Tecau and Hanescu  6-1, 7-6, 7-6.  The following afternoon in the all important fourth match, Soderling crushed Hanescu 7-5, 6-1, 6-0 to prevent Sweden, a perennial fixture in the world group, from being relegated.

Shortly after the euphoria of Marcos Daniel’s win over Ecuadorian Giovanni Lapentti, the Brazilian crowd was brought back to earth as brother Nicolas Lapentti defeated Thomaz Bellucci 7-6, 6-4, 7-5. On Saturday the Lapentti siblings inflicted further misery by prevailing in five sets match over Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa.  With Ecuador leading 2-1, in Sunday’s reverse rubber, Daniel down two sets to none, pushed Nicolas Lapentti to a fifth set.  Yet, the hometown crowd was brought to despair as Lapentti carried the match 6-4,6-4,1-6,2-6,8-6 thereby eliminating Brazil from the world group.

The most compelling group matches were Belgium vs. Ukraine and Chile vs. Austria with both requiring a decisive fifth rubber.  After Belgium’s Christophe Rochus and Steve Darcis gave their side a 2-0 advantage on Friday, Saturday in doubles, Sergei Bubka and Sergiy Stakhovsky defeated Xavier Malisse and Oliver Rochus 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 to keep Ukraine in the game.  Furthermore, on Sunday, Stakhovsky denied Malisse by claiming the fourth rubber 6-3, 3-6, 0-6, 6-1, 6-3.  But, Belgium’s setback was temporary. In the fifth rubber, Darcis strong armed Bubka 6-2, 6-1, 6-0.

A continent away, Chile found itself in the same position as Belgium.   After Nicolas Massu and Paul Capdeville won their matches on Friday.  Austrians Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer kept their nation in the fold by beating Massu and Capdeville in doubles.  Moreover, the Chilean crowd had its anxiety heighten as Melzer won the fourth rubber 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 5-7,6-4 over Capdeville. However, later that day, Massu defeated Stefan Koubek 6-4,4-6,6-4,7-6 to grab the ultimate world group spot.

The victors will square off next year against Spain, the Czech Republic, the U.S., Russia, Argentina, Croatia, Israel and Germany, the top eight seeds in that order. The placement for the world group playoff winners will be released Wednesday.

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Spain Bounces Israel , Czech Republic Outlives Croatia in Davis Cup Semis

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Spain Bounces Israel , Czech Republic Outlives Croatia in Davis Cup Semis


img_97281With Spain’s best players, Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco, out of commission due to abdominal muscle injuries, the defending Davis Cup champion had to rely on an alternate squad to bat in the semifinals against Israel.  Unfortunately for first time semifinalist Israel, the tandem of David Ferrer, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Tommy Robredo and Feliciano Lopez showed no cracks.

Spurred on by their home crowd as well as cheerleaders Nadal and Verdasco, the Spaniards gave an A+ performance. As a result, by Saturday, Spain had carried all three rubbers to safely move on to the finals for the second straight year. Although with the clay Israel was at a conspicuous disadvantage, it still put up an admirable fight. On Friday, Ferrer got his team off to a great start with a 6-1,6-4,6-3 victory over Harel Levy.  Subsequently, Israel’s best singles offering Dudi Sela battled Juan Carlos Ferrero. Despite Sela’s valiant effort, with a far more competitive rubber than the score reflected, Sela could not keep up with the former French Open champion.  Ferrero prevailed 6-4,6-2,6-0.

On Saturday, with Spain ahead two matches to none, the 2008 Australian doubles champion and renowned Israeli pair Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich represented Israel’s best opportunity to keep its remarkable run alive.  The Israelis encountered a wall as Robredo & Lopez, who seldom play as a unit, came up victorious 7-6,6-7,6-4,6-2.  With neither team able to capitalize on break point chances, the first set was captured by Spain in a tiebreaker.  However, the Israelis quickly reversed that momentum  in the second set when Lopez double faulted at 0-40 giving them a 1-0 edge.  After Israel consolidated, Robredo saved three break points to maintain a one game deficit at 1-2.  With Israel serving for the set at 4-5, Erlich committed a myriad of volley errors which allowed Spain to get back on serve. Following Robredo’s love service game for 6-5, Israel up 40-15 needed Ram’s sensational volleying skills to efface a break point and eventually get into a tiebreaker.  Shortly after, a backhand volley error by Erlich permitted the Spaniards to build a 4-1 lead.  Yet, this resilient Israeli pair saved five set points and equalized the match when Robredo’s forehand volley sailed long.

In the third set, Spain converted triple break point, then broke Israel a second time for 3-0 with some spectacular forehands by Robredo. Although Erlich and Ram closed the gap slightly by breaking, the insurance break was just the cushion the Spaniard required to claim the set. Only weeks removed from right elbow surgery, Erlich couldn’t contend with the blows from the Spanish side.  Serving at 1 all in the fourth, a low backhand return by Lopez forced Erlich to volley up resulting in break point. Furthermore, at this critical stage, pain in the elbow caused Erlich to request an injury time out. Soon, back at service line, Erlich surrendered his serve.  After consolidating, the Spaniards broke again to extend their lead to 4-1. A few games later, at love, Lopez punched his nation’s passage into the finals.

Today, as ordained by the rules, the remaining rubbers took place. In the initial one, Ferrer defeated Ram 6-3,6-1.  Israel avoided a shutout as Levy carried the second match 7-5, 6-2 over Lopez. Despite this outcome, the Israelis will look back on 2009 with fondness and great pride. Prior to being derailed by Spain, Israel registered victories over powerhouses Sweden and Russia.

Spain will battle Czech Republic, the latter makes it’s first appearance in the finals since 1980.  At that time, the territory was in one piece and called Czechoslovakia.  The Czechs also secured their entry into the final round on Saturday after winning all three rubbers. On Friday, Radek Stepanek tranquilized a hostile Croatian crowd, stared down 78 aces and took one minute shy of 6 hours before edging out Ivo Karlovic 6-7,7-6,7-6,6-7,16-14. On the heel of one of the longest matches in Davis Cup history, Tomas Berdych, not wanting to be outdone by his countryman, took down Marin Cilic 6-3,6-3,3-6,4-6,6-3 after 3hours and  48 minutes. Still with plenty of reserve, Berdych and Stepanek teamed up on Saturday in what must have seemed like a practice session to beat Lovro Zvoko and Cilic 6-1,6-3,6-4.  So today’s action featured two dead rubbers. Czech Jan Hajek defeated Roko Karnusic 7-6,6-4.  The home audience did not leave empty handed as Zvoko prevailed over Lukas Dlouhy 6-3, 6-4.

The finals will be decided in December with Spain hosting the Czechs Republic.  Although both teams performed well on clay this weekend, the Spaniards with the best clay players around, even with Nadal sidelined, will be hard to be.  Therefore, it will take a formidable performance by the Czechs to prevent Spain from capturing it’s fourth cup this decade.

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Croatia Expels U.S. In Davis Cup Quarterfinal

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Croatia Expels U.S. In Davis Cup Quarterfinal


img_0642The Davis Cup quarterfinal was the focus this weekend as the U.S. played Croatia in Europe.  In the fourth rubber today, with America’s back against the wall, James Blake tried to maintain his undefeated record vis-à-vis 20 year-old, Marin Cilic.  However, Blake came up short against the talented youngster, as Cilic prevailed 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 sending Croatia to the semifinals.

After Blake was unable to take the lead in spite of numerous break point opportunities in the first set, Cilic broke when the American’s forehand went long in the first set for a 5-3 edge.  Then, with a love game, the Croatian carried the first set.  In the second set, after holding serve, with a forehand up the line winner, Blake managed a break point. But, that evaporated when James dumped a backhand down the line into the net.  With excellent serves, Cilic held.  At 2 all, after Blake failed to convert on a game point, Cilic made a service return winner for break point.  Subsequently, Cilic capitalized with a Blake double fault to go ahead 4-2.  Soon afterward, Cilic broke a second time to take a two set lead.

After comfortably holding serve to open the third, with a forehand up the line winner, Cilic arrived at break point. The Croatian scored when the American’s backhand hit the net and sailed long.  Immediately, with a couple of backhand winners, Blake broke back for 1-2.  Always under the knife, Blake faced several break points and dismissed them including five in the eighth game.  Perhaps a little obfuscated, Cilic committed a forehand error to give Blake a break point; the latter grabbed the edge when the former’s forehand went long.  James won the third and forced a fourth set.

On his first break point chance in the fourth, thanks to a backhand error by his rival, Cilic converted to take a 2-0 lead.  Then, the Croat consolidated with a love game. Never in danger on serve, with a crosscourt forehand winner, Marin broke James once more to secure the set and Croatia’s semifinal berth.

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USA Cleans Switzerland’s Clock In The First Round Of The Davis Cup


In Davis Cup play, Andy Roddick has been unflappable. Today, America’s ace in the hole hammered Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth rubber 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to book his team’s place in the quarterfinals. Moreover, Roddick becomes second only to John McEnroe on the U.S. all-time Davis Cup winning list.

With Swiss cowbells ringing, Wawrinka won the first game with a forehand volley. Thereafter, things got sticky pretty fast for the Swiss. In two subsequent service games, Wawrinka went down love-30 and also faced a break point. Still, with a few unforced errors by Roddick, Wawrinka held serve. However, it was just a matter of time before Stanislas had to pay the piper. The debt came due in the seventh game. When Wawrinka missed a crosscourt backhand, Roddick got his second break point. Then, with a little luck, Roddick’s stroke skidded off the line, leading to a backhand error from Wawrinka and the break advantage. With his overpowering serve, Roddick grabbed the set.

The initial game of the second set was a replay of the first. Again, Wawrinka held serve for 1-0 with a forehand crosscourt volley winner. But, after Roddick cruised through his service game, Wawrinka was in dire straights afresh. With a backhand down the line winner and a volley error by his adversary, Andy had double break point. When Stanislas misconnected on an overhead, Roddick jumped ahead 2-1. The Swiss was irate, slamming his racket to the ground because he felt that the ball bounced twice on the American’s previous stroke. Except, there was no conclusive evidence that this was the case. In fact, Andy appeared to have trapped the ball. Thus, Wawrinka’s and the Swiss team’s protest fell on deaf ears. With Roddick able to neutralize Wawrinka’s masterful stroke, the backhand, and with the Swiss forced to sure up his least comfortable shot, the forehand; one break was enough for Roddick to capture the second set.

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Spain Gets The Gold While Argentina Takes Silver in Davis Cup


Argentina’s chances of winning its first Davis Cup trophy in its third appearance were lofty. Firstly, it had home field advantage. Secondly, the surface selected was hardcourt. Moreover, with world number one Rafael Nadal unable to make the trip due to tendonitis, Argentina seemed blessed. But Spain showed that it is far from being a one trick pony. Spaniard Fernando Verdasco defeated Argentine Jose Acasuso 6-3, 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the fourth rubber to take the title leaving thousands of boisterous Argentine fans stupefied.

In Friday’s first rubber, Argentina got off to a flying start. David Nalbandian faced Spaniard David Ferrer with the former proving to be Goliath. As usual, Nalbandian’s backhand was sublime. More impressively, his forehand was solid. He even came up with highlight reel volleys. Nalbandian prevailed 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to give Argentina a leg up. Argentina maintained the momentum through the first set in the second rubber as world number 9 Juan Martin Del Potro squared off against Feliciano Lopez. Courtesy of one service break, Del Potro carried the first set. However, Lopez no longer feeling generous cleaned up his game and pushed the second set to a tiebreak which the Spaniard easily won. With neither player making inroads on the other’s serve, the third set also went to a tiebreak. Lopez recovered from a minibreak disadvantage to take the third. In the fourth set, after Lopez jumped out to an early lead with a break, Del Potro quickly effaced that advantage. Unfortunately, Del Potro sustained a right groin injury and despite medical treatment was unable to recover. His next service game, Del Potro went down love-40, and then double faulted to get back in a hole. Ultimately, Lopez beat the young Argentine 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-3.

Saturday in the doubles, Argentine Agustin Calleri and Nalbandian took on Verdasco and Lopez. Argentina debuted well, needing a single break to take the first set. In the second, as Calleri served to force a tiebreak, he made some key unforced errors to help Spain carry the set. After stepping on the gas to get a 5-1 lead in the third, Spain sputtered. Argentina forced a tiebreak and was just two points from leading two sets to one. Spain battled back to prevent the home team from stealing the third set. In the fourth set, Spain pulled away as a stunned Argentine public looked on 5-7, 7-5, 7-6, 6-3.

The feature match on Sunday was Acasuso versus Verdasco. Argentina was attempting to defy history since the last team to overcome a 2-1 deficit in the finals was Germany in 1990. Argentina’s was hopeful that despite not having played for months, Acasuso would force a decisive fifth rubber. After a sloppy first set by the Argentine which went in Verdasco’s favor, Acasuso capitalized on errors by the Spaniard to get ahead 4-1. But with multiple unforced backhand errors, Acasuso relinquished his lead. After a seesaw of breaks, the second went to a tiebreak which Argentina finally secured. In the third set, Acasuso tracked down an overhead from Verdasco and made a forehand winner for love-30. Then, a Verdasco double fault gifted Argentina the early break. Swiftly though, Acasuso returned the favor by double faulting to level the set. This back and forth pattern persisted until the tenth game when Acasuso finally consolidated a break to end the set. By picking on Acasuso’s weak backhand, Verdasco dominated the fourth and forced a conclusive fifth set. With three unforced errors, Acasuso faced love-40 in the opening game; Verdasco captured the break when the Argentine netted a makeable forehand. To aggravate matters, Acasuso suffered an abdominal strain. As the errors rained from the Argentine side, Verdasco took control of the fifth set and on the third break chance produced a forehand down the line for winner to cinch the title for Spain, the third this decade.

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Spain Downs USA In Davis Cup Semifinals


Rafael Nadal booked Spain’s berth in the Davis Cup final by beating American Andy Roddick in the fourth rubber 6-4, 6-0, 6-4.

The odds were stacked against the Americans, the defending champions, for various reasons. Firstly, they were playing on foreign soil. Secondly, two of their top players James Blake and Bob Bryan were unable to participate. But most importantly, they would have to face Spain on clay, a surface where the Americans are the least comfortable and Nadal’s pure genius has been proven over and over. Therefore, it was not surprising that after the first day, the Americans were in the position of playing catch up having lost the first two rubbers.

This uphill battle began promisingly with American Sam Querrey winning the first set in a tiebreak 7-6 over Nadal. But that would be the only bright spot in the first match. A seemingly rusty Nadal even went down a break early in the second set. But the Spaniard came roaring back to take control of the second set and the match 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

In the second rubber, Andy Roddick faced David Ferrer. The tide appeared to have turned for the U.S. as Roddick managed to get a two set to one lead after losing a tough first set tiebreak. Yet again, America’s luck proved fleeting as Spain stole the match in five sets 6-7, 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 6-8. On Saturday, the U.S. stayed alive as the doubles team of Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish prevailed in spectacular fashion over Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

However, the pivotal match came on Sunday as Nadal squared off against Roddick. Initially, the American used his big serve effectively to keep toe to toe with the Spaniard. Nonetheless, serving at 4-5, Roddick lost his way allowing Nadal to take the set. Thereafter, Nadal demonstrated why he has won four consecutive French Open titles. The clay master dominated, passing at will as Roddick tried to change things up by coming to net in the second set. Roddick attempted to stage a rally in the third set and had triple break point in the second game. Still, Nadal found the means to hold serve. The Spaniard then turned the tables, breaking the American at love the very next game. In the eight game, Roddick again found a slim opening at love-30, but it was promptly closed by Nadal. With a strong service game, Nadal put to bed the third set and assured Spain’s spot in the finals. The Spaniards also won the last rubber of the day with Lopez defeating Querrey 7-6, 7-6. Spain’s opponent will be either Argentina or Russia. The Russians will need to stage a come from behind charge as they find themselves down 2-1.

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Intrepid Del Potro Puts Argentina Into Davis Cup Final


Urged on by the hometown fans, Argentine teenager Juan Martin Del Potro was the hero on Sunday as he defeated Russian Igor Andreev to secure Argentina’s place into the Davis Cup final 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.

On Friday, Argentina cruised to a 2-0 lead with superb performances by David Nalbandian and Del Potro. In the first rubber, Nalbandian beat Andreev 7-6, 6-2, 6-4. After losing a tight first set in a tiebreak, the Russian simply disappeared. An unforced error by Andreev in the second allowed Nalbandian to capitalize on triple break point and go up 3-1. Andreev had several chances to get back on serve but his erratic forehand proved to be his Achilles heel. Nalbandian closed out the second set with another break; then with his consistent play prevailed in the third for the straight sets win.

In the second rubber, Del Potro took on Nikolay Davydenko who turned out to be no match for the talented youngster 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. With his crushing forehand, Del Potro broke at will to take the first set. After getting a double break at 4-1, Del Potro’s game hit a wall. As a result of unforced errors, he let Davydenko back in the second set. Yet, Davydenko failed to convert on two opportunities to equalize the set and Del Potro eventually secured it. The third set was a cakewalk for the teenager.

On Saturday, the Russian team of Dmitry Tursinov and Igor Kunitsyn defeated Argentines Guillermo Canas and Nalbandian in an exhilarating five set match 6-2, 6-1, 6-7, 3-6, 8-6. After a blazing start whereby the Russians were up two sets to none lead, the relentless Argentines carried the third set in a tiebreak after saving three match points. After winning the fourth, the Argentineans coasted to an early break in the fifth set. However, the Russians broke at love to get back on serve. Then, with multiple unforced errors from their rivals, Russia converted a break point. Subsequently, Tursinov served out the match with a strong game to keep Russia alive.

On Sunday, Davydenko bounced Nalbandian 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-0. With a drop shot winner, Nalbandian went up a double break and won the first set. But once Davydenko cleaned up on the unforced errors, he converted on his fifth break point chance in the second set to take a 3-1 lead and eventually the set. Despite some dicey play, in the third, Davydenko broke Nalbandian at love to edge in front 3-2. But serving for the set at 5-4, the Russian missed a backhand crosscourt allowing Argentina back into the set. However, in the tiebreak, Nalbandian double faulted to concede the set. Then, a barrage of unforced errors followed from the Argentine in the fourth allowing Russia to comfortably win.

In the decisive rubber, unaffected by the magnitude of the moment, Del Potro, the hottest player on tour besides Rafael Nadal, began the match by breaking the Russian. Andreev’s inability to contain the unforced errors helped Del Potro to prevail in the first set. In the second set, a net court went in Del Potro’s favor giving him another break point which he converted. Then with that unstoppable forehand, Del Potro hit a couple of winners to extend to a double break lead. In the third set, with his steady play, Del Potro jumped out to a 4-0 advantage then with some thundering forehand winners, the Argentine closed out the match 6-4, 6-2. 6-1. Argentina will face Spain in the finals at home. For sure, the ultimate match up would be Nadal versus Del Potro considering the extraordinary season these two are having.

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USA Advances To The Semifinals In Davis Cup


The spotlight this weekend was on the Davis Cup as titleholder, the United States, confronted France in the quarterfinals in Winston, North Carolina. With a highly spirited crowd cheering him on, Andy Roddick took on Michael Llodra in the opening match on Friday. This turned out to be a close contest with Llodra being broken only once the entire match. Tie breaks determined the outcome of the second and third sets, allowing Roddick to prevail in three sets 6-4, 7-6, 7-6.

Round two featured James Blake versus Paul-Henri Mathieu. After splitting the first two sets, Blake won the third and looked to be in control of the match. But, Mathieu sprung back, winning the fourth. Considering Blake’s abysmal record in 5 set matches, US Captain Patrick McEnroe would have been justified in being alarmed. As the decisive set began, the likelihood of a lost loomed larger as France nosed out in front 2-1. Blake broke back to equalize things at 2-2. After that, things remained even until the 9th game when Mathieu converted a break point in a game in which he made an awesome down the line forehand. While serving for the match, Mathieu reacquainted himself with first serves, something which was absent throughout this set and went up 40-15. To his credit, Blake did not panic. On the next point which could have been the last, Blake used his speed to maintain himself in the match. Then, a couple of unforced errors by France leveled the set. After holding his own serve, Blake broke Mathieu to take the match and give the US a 2-0 lead 7-6, 6-7,6-3,3-6, 7-5.

The next round of competition on Saturday had the Bryan brothers playing against the 2007 Wimbledon doubles champion, Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra. After a tight first set which was decided in a tiebreak in the Americans’ favor, the French stepped up their game. The strategy of taking Clement out of his comfort zone and requiring him to come up with volleys and forehand shots, which are his weakness, at first paid off. But mid-second set, the more practice the Frenchman got, the better he became at executing these demanding shots. Furthermore, Llodra’s serve once again was on the mark picking up where he left off the previous day. Undeterred, the combination of all the aforementioned elements gave the Frenchmen the match and sustained the expectation that they could progress on to the next round 6-7, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

On Sunday, France’s Mathieu faced Andy Roddick in the initial match. Mathieu, probably still in shock from the prior day’s result, offered no resistance. Roddick slammed the door on France, smoothly winning in three sets 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. A final obligatory match took place between Blake and Richard Gasquet in which the former was victorious. A perplexing question remained as to why Gasquet, as the top ranked player on the French squad, did not square off against Roddick instead. Thus, in September, the Americans will play the Spaniards in the semifinals in Spain; the latter eliminated Germany on German soil. The other semifinal will have Russia opposing Argentina. The Russians needed the home court advantage to eke out the win against the Czech Republic, while Argentina slid through against Sweden.

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