Nalbandian put Argentina into Davis Cup semi-finals (Night Lead)

July 12th, 2010 - 12:38 am ICT by IANS  

Davis Cup Moscow, July 11 (DPA) Argentine hero David Nalbandian fired his nation into the Davis Cup semi-finals Sunday to complete a 3-2 defeat of Russia in a World Group quarter-final struggle.
The 28-year-old hip surgery victim from 2009, his ranking down past 150, iced the tie with a defeat of Mikhail Youzhny, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-3 in the deciding rubber. It was the first time Argentina had defeated Russia in Moscow after two losses in the capital.

The match was a must-win after Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko finally came alive in the first of the reverse singles, keeping the hosts in the chase as he beat Eduardo Schwank 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to square the weekend at 2-2.

Nalbandian, playing for the first time in three months after post-operative injuries, won his opening rubber Friday and sealed the victory to send the three-time finalist to France in September for the semi-final showdown.

Youzhny produced a double-fault to hand over two match points, saving one before crashing a forehand into the net to spell the end.

“I won playing great tennis and that makes me happy,” said Nalbandian. “The matches were all tough and I had my doubts about my fitness.

“Luckily it turned out fine. I got really lucky today.

“Anything can happen in a semi-final, now I hope to get back onto the ATP circuit. We have a team that showed it can overcome any obstacle. I came out with determination right from the beginning.”

Russia were undefeated in 17 home ties since 1996 before Argentina shattered the longevity mark.

Spanish domination of the past two seasons was buried by the French, who dominated that tie in Clermont Ferrand 5-0.

Only a few hours before Spain were to face the Netherlands in the football World Cup, Iberian sporting hopes were crushed on court for a side missing Rafael Nadal, who attended the football final in Johannesburg while resting a knee.

Gilles Simon and Julien Benneteau put the boot in for the winners, with Simon defeating Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (9-7) and all-rounder Benneteau thrashing Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.

Spain, winner of the last two Davis Cups, had been hoping to duplicate the trophy hat-trick that the US achieved in the 1970s.

The second semi-final September 17-19 will be played in Serbia after the Serbs achieved an historic first final-four spot as an independent nation, 4-1 over hot rival Croatia.

World number two Novak Djokovic clinched the win as he beat Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 and Janko Tipsarevic added to the home pain in Split with his defeat of substitute Antonio Veic 6-2, 7-6 (7-5).

“Right now I feel so relieved that we won,” said Djokovic. “We won in one of the toughest atmosphere against a team that has a lot of success in this competition.”

The Czechs were playing Chile in Coquimbo with victory already secured. The tie ended 4-1 to the visitors as Jorge Aguilar got a consolation point as he beat Lukas Dlouhy 6-1, 7-6 (8-6).

Czech Ivo Minar wrapped up the weekend as he beat Cristobal Saavedra-Corvalan 7-6 (7-2), 6-2.

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