Davis Cup: Croatia in command over USJuly 11th, 2009 - 2:20 pm ICT by IANS
Porec (Croatia), July 11 (DPA) James Blake blew a two-set lead for the second time since 2006 and Mardy Fish lost a marathon as Croatia surged to a 2-0 lead over the US in their Davis Cup World Group quarter-final Friday.
An inspired Ivo Karlovic made his first career comeback from two sets to love down as he fired 47 aces to take out Blake, a first-round loser at the French Open and Wimbledon, 6-7 (5-7), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5.
Marin Cilic put the hosts in command in a match which ended one hour into Saturday morning, outlasting Fish 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-1, 8-6.
With Andy Roddick missing after losing the Wimbledon final, the situation looks desperate for the US. Croatia are the only team to have a winning record over the 32-time Davis Cup champs, standing 2-0.
Blake’s level slipped in the fourth-set tiebreaker as Karlovic won the last six points to square at two sets each before going on to post his first comeback from the depths of five sets with a break in the penultimate game of the three-hour, 38-minute marathon.
In Marbella, Spain, Philipp Kohlschreiber rescued German hopes against holders Spain, levelling the tie at 1-1 with a straight-sets defeat of Tommy Robredo.
Kohlschreiber’s 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win left Germany level after Fernando Verdasco got off on a tear for the hosts to defeat debutant Andreas Beck 6-0, 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-1, taking the first set in 22 minutes.
Beck, ranked 51st, suffered with nerves at the start in the packed-out bullring setting at the southern Spanish resort city, with Verdasco winning six of the opening seven games in 30-degree Celsius heat in front of 9,000 mainly Spanish fans.
Once the German shed his stage fright, he made a match of it, falling in the fifth set after three hours, 10 minutes.
“Naturally I’m disappointed,” said Beck. “I’m sorry I couldn’t help the team today.
“I was bothered by my emotions and played badly at the start. I’ve never experienced anything like this Davis Cup atmosphere.”
Kohlschreiber said he executed his game plan perfectly to leave Germany in with a chance against a Spanish side missing both Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer through injury.
“This time, I played correctly,” said 29th-ranked Kohlschreiber, who had lost his last two matches against the Australian Open semi-finalist. “I was super-concentrated. I didn’t want to lose to him again.”
Germany will give Mischa Zvereva a test of fire in Saturday’s doubles as the first-time player teams with Nicolas Kiefer against Spaniards Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez.
In Tel Aviv, unfancied Israel took a surprise 2-0 lead over 2006 champion Russia, who have played the semi-finals for the past four years and are into the quarters for the 10th time in 11 years.
But the hosts took little notice, with Harel Levy starting the afternoon with a defeat of Igor Andreev 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 followed by Dudi Sela’s upset of Mikhail Youzhny 3-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5.
Marat Safin and substitute Igor Kunitsyn are set to defend Russian colours in the doubles Saturday as Safin likely bows out from Davis Cup competition.
Tomas Berdych put the Czech Republic into 1-0 command against three-time runner-up Argentina with his 6-4, 2-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Juan Monaco.
World number five Juan Del Potro re-established order with his brief defeat of Ivo Minar 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 to leave the scoreline 1-1.
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Tags: andreas beck, andy roddick, cup champs, davis cup, degree celsius, fernando verdasco, fish 4, ivo karlovic, james blake, marbella spain, mardy fish, marin cilic, minute marathon, philipp kohlschreiber, spanish fans, spanish resort, straight sets, time davis, tommy robredo, world group