Davis Cup: Croatia dashes US comeback hopes

July 13th, 2009 - 12:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Davis Cup Porec (Croatia), July 13 (DPA) Croatia will line up in the Davis Cup World Group semi-finals against the Czech Republic after chasing the 32 times champions United States out of the competition with a 3-1 scoreline.
Marin Cilic gave the Croats the winning point beating James Blake 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, on an indoor clay court here Sunday.

Radek Stepanek, who suffered an injury at Wimbledon, ensured the Czech advance, completing a 3-2 victory over Argentina, defeating Juan Monaco 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-2.

World number five Juan Del Potro had kept the visitors alive, his 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Tomas Berdych knotting the tie 2-2.

The second semi-final Sep 18-20 will pit underdogs Israel against Spain after Juan Carlos Ferrero rescued the defending champions in Marbella.

In Tel Aviv, the Israelis finished off a dream weekend to reach a first-ever semi-final, defeating two-time champions Russia, 4-1.

Harel Levy completed the 4-1 home result, beating Igor Kunitsyn 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2) after Israeli Dudi Sela was forced to retire trailing Igor Andreev 4-3.

Ferrero, 29, has been storming through a comeback this season, winning a clay title in Casablanca three months ago to end a five-year title drought and reaching a Wimbledon quarter-final against Andy Murray.

The veteran made his first Davis Cup start since 2005 as he earned his 16th victory from 23 rubbers.

Earlier, German Philipp Kohlschreiber clawed the visitors back, beating Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-2, 1-6, 2-6, 8-6.

Blake’s battering on indoor clay was the second defeat of the weekend for the 29-year-old who lost in the first round at both the French Open and Wimbledon.

His record dropped to 7-10 in live rubbers.

Croatia are the only team with a positive record against the Americans, having won all three of their ties in 2003, 2005 and now at this Adriatic port resort.

The US was trying to recover from 2-0 down for the first time since 1934 but failed spectacularly in the attempt as Blake fell.

Cilic, ranked 15th, called his effort “one of the best matches I’ve played”.

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