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Sweden, Germany & Russia Into Davis Cup QFs; Defending Champion U.S. Advances

World Group - First Round

Thomas Johansson© AFP/Getty ImagesThomas Johansson

Three nations booked places in the Davis Cup World Group quarterfinals on Sunday. Defending champions United States, Argentina, Czech Republic, France and Spain all took unssailable leads after winning doubles rubbers on Saturday.

ISRAEL 2, SWEDEN 3
Two Davis Cup veterans Thomas Johansson and Jonas Bjorkman helped Sweden set up a quarterfinal away to to Argentina in April.

The 32-year-old Johansson, who made his debut against Spain in 1998, started the comeback for Sweden by beating Israeli Dudi Sela 7-6(6), 6-1, 7-5 in three hours and six minutes. Sela, currently No. 67 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, had the better start and served for the first set at 5-3 but Johansson recovered and won 13 of the next 15 games to take control of his 26th singles rubber in the international men’s team competition.

"It's not every day that you play a first set that lasts an hour and 25 minutes," said Johansson. "I was happy to win that and afterwards I started to play much better." The Swede struck 11 aces and 30 winners with seven breaks of serve from 18 opportunities. Sela committed 60 unforced errors in his 12th career singles rubber for Israel.

Three-time Davis Cup winner Bjorkman, aged 35, overcame a nightmare start to beat Harel Levy of Israel 0-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6) in two hours and 58 minutes. Bjorkman, who made his debut for Sweden against Denmark in 1994, won just 11 points in the first set. He improves to 39-24 in the competition.

"I started off pretty badly, I felt that it couldn't get much worse... but in a five-setter you always have the chance to get back into the match," said Bjorkman. "Harel was just blocking the returns so it allowed me to come in and take charge of the points straight away."

GERMANY 3, KOREA REPUBLIC 2
Philipp Kohlschreiber Philipp Kohlschreiber was the hero for Germany after the World No. 28 beat Korean Hyung-Taik Lee 6-0, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(1) to give the three-time former champion's an unassailable 3-1 lead.

Kohlschreiber, who captured his second ATP career title in Auckland (d. Ferrero) last month, struck 13 aces and 71 winners in total. Lee, who made his Davis Cup debut in 1995, drops to 47-18 in the competition.

"I am so happy. It has been a great week. I think I was the better player from the baseline even though I had some problems with my calf at the beginning of the fourth set," Kohlschreiber said. "We now look forward to the quarterfinals against Spain. Maybe we have seen a new German Davis Cup generation."

Korean Woong-Sun Jun won his ninth Davis Cup singles rubber when he beat Michael Berrer 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in the fifth 'dead' rubber. Germany will now entertain Spain at home in April.

RUSSIA 3, SERBIA 2
Nikolay Davydenko and Russian captain Shamil Tarpischev Russia advanced to the Davis Cup quarterfinals at home to the Czech Republic, after Novak Djokovic of Serbia retired dizzy and exhausted at the end of the third set against Russian World No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko in the first reverse singles rubber at the Small Sports Arena in Moscow.

Australian Open champion Djokovic, who had struggled to overcome a stomach bug all week, was leading 6-4, 6-3 and 3-0 in the third set before Davydenko started his comeback. Djokovic retired immediately after the third set in the third set of the pair's first career meeting.

"I think he still has his confidence from the Australian Open," said Davydenko of Djokovic. "He was hitting the ball well from the baseline, but after four days of not playing I know physically he�s not so good, and when you see that we played two hours 40 minutes, for me that�s OK, but for him, you know he was feeling it after the third set, so maybe he was already very tired."

In the dead rubber, World No. 114 Viktor Troicki notched his first Davis Cup win when he beat Dmitry Tursunov of Russia 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 22 minutes.

OTHER FIRST ROUND TIES
Five nations advanced to the Davis Cup quarterfinals on Saturday, by taking unassailable leads. On Sunday the dead rubbers were completed.

Defending champions United States completed a 4-1 victory over Austria at the Ferry Dusika Hallenstadion in Vienna. Austrian Stefan Koubek was leading Mike Bryan 7-5, 1-0 in the first dead rubber when Bryan retired. Bob Bryan beat Werner Eschauer 6-0, 3-6, 7-6(3) in the fifth rubber. Bob Bryan has now won three of his five Davis Cup singles rubbers.

The United States will next meet France for the first time since September 2002 in the quarterfinals. France improved to 8-1 in the Davis Cup competition against Romania with a 5-0 clean sweep at the Sala Transilvania, Sibiu. In the dead rubbers, France's Michael Llodra defeated Andrei Pavel 7-6(5), 7-6(7) and Arnaud Clement edged past Horia Tecau 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-4. It is the first time France has won a tie 5-0 since February 2001.

Belgium won the two dead rubbers Sunday against the Czech Republic, with last year's Amersfoort champion Steve Darcis beating Lukas Dlouhy of Belgium 7-6(1), 6-4 and 20-year-old Ruben Bemelmans winning his first Davis Cup match at 6-7(4), 7-5, 2-2 against Belgian. Pavel Vizner.

Jamie Baker won Great Britain its first point of the weekend in Buenos Aires when the World No. 235 defeated Agustin Calleri 7-6(4), 6-4 in the fifth 'dead' rubber, as Argentina won 4-1 overall. Jose Acasuso had earlier beaten Alex Bogdanovic 7-5, 7-5 in the fourth rubber. Great Britain hasn't defeated Argentina since the two nations first meeting in 1928.

Tommy Robredo and Nicolas Almagro each won their second rubbers of the week to give Spain the clean sweep against Peru at the Jockey Club del Peru in Lima. Robredo beat 19-year-old Mauricio Echazu 6-4, 6-1 in one hour and 15 minutes in the first 'dead' rubber of the day, and Almagro followed with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Ivan Miranda.

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