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Russia Ousts Germany, Targets Sweden in Final

Dusseldorf, Germany

The Russia squadBongarts/Getty ImagesThe Russia squad

In its first event appearance since consecutive runner-up showings from 2000-02, Russia succeeded in finishing atop the Blue Group standings to earn a return trip to the final at the ARAG ATP World Team Championship.

Last year’s Davis Cup finalists first ended host nation Germany's title hopes on Friday at the Rochusclub as Dmitry Tursunov clinched the final round robin tie with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win over Nicolas Kiefer, and then received help when Italy came back to defeat Spain.

Kiefer, who had defeated Tursunov in their previous two meetings, double-faulted at match point to seal Germany's fate. He managed to convert on just one of his 13 break point chances in the two hour, 30 minute match, while Tursunov won two of four.

"My defeat was very disappointing not only to me but also to the team and the fans," said Kiefer. "I am training very hard throughout the year, invest a lot into the sport, and then it is of course upsetting when I can transport it into the game. I am lacking consistency too often."

Tursunov, playing in his first career singles match at the Rochusclub, then teamed up with compatriot Mikhail Youzhny to complete the sweep of the German team, defeating Christopher Kas and Philipp Petzschner 7-6(2), 6-3.

Russia took the 1-0 lead against Germany on Thursday when Igor Andreev handed Philipp Kohlschreiber his first loss of the week, 6-4, 6-3.

Kohlschreiber entered his match winless in five career matches against Andreev, and once again failed to solve his Russian opponent. Andreev broke the German to secure the first set, and broke one more time to take the 2-0 lead in the second.

The two breaks were enough for the win as Andreev saved all five break points he faced.

Andreev has now won nine straight matches against German players, a streak that began in 2005 when he defeated Kohlschreiber in the third round at New Haven.

The World No. 28 made a winning start on his Dusseldorf debut when he beat Italian Simone Bolelli in three sets Monday, but lost to Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday.

Kohlschreiber had established the lead for his country in the first two round robin ties, dismissing World No. 5 David Ferrer en route to Germany’s 2-1 victory over Spain and notching the only win in Germany’s tie against Italy.

Russia will face three-time champion Sweden in Saturday's final. Sweden, winners of all three of its Red Group ties this week, defeated Russia in the only previous meeting between the two nations en route to the 1991 title.
 
Swedes to Play for Title

Sweden booked its spot in the title match at the 31st edition of the ARAG ATP World Team Championship, winning both singles match against the U.S. on Thursday at the Rochusclub to ensure a top finish in the Red Group standings.

Robin Soderling came back from a loss of a set to dismiss World No. 8 James Blake, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, and Thomas Johansson followed with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 win over American Bobby Reynolds.

Blake appeared to be in good standing after breaking Soderling to secure the first set in 43 minutes, but the Swede needed 49 minutes to take the next two sets. Blake managed to win just seven points total in the final set, including one on serve.

“It wasn’t my best tennis out there,” said Blake. “He started playing great. I didn’t stick to my plan that was working in the first set. It can get away quick against a play like that… I would have liked to have done a little better today and given us a chance to still be in the finals on Saturday. But I took my chances, it didn't happen.”

Johansson, a former Australian Open champion, then clinched Sweden’s return to the final as he took one hour and 40 minutes to dismiss Reynolds in the American’s Rochusclub singles debut.

Sweden made the score 3-0 against the reigning Davis Cup champions as Robert Lindstedt and Soderling defeated Wayne Odesnik and Reynolds, 6-1, 6-2 on Friday.

Sweden will play for the ARAG ATP World Team Championship title for the sixth time, with a chance to tie four-time champions Germany, USA and Spain as the title leaders. Sweden won in 1988 (d. USA, 2-1), 1991 (d. Yugoslavia, 2-1) and 1995 (d. Croatia, 2-1), and finished as runners-up in 1986 (l. to France) and 1999 (l. to Australia).

The U.S. was attempting to reach the final for the first time since winning its last of four titles in 1993.
 
Argentina Defeats Czech in Repeat of '07 Final

Argentina got the better of the Czech Republic in a meeting of last year's finalists, once again relying on the doubles point to clinch the 2-1 victory at the ARAG ATP World Team Championship.

Lucas Arnold Ker and Sebastian Prieto defeated Tomas Berdych and Pavel Vizner 7-6(3), 6-3 on Friday to give the defending champions a consolation win.

Both teams failed to repeat their final efforts this year after losing their first two round robin ties against Sweden and the U.S.

On Thursday, World No. 12 Tomas Berdych defeated Guillermo Canas, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to give Czech Republic the early lead, and Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela followed with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Michal Tabara to level the score.

In last year’s final, Berdych won the first singles match against Chela before Argentina came back to win the reverse singles rubber and clinched the Championship in the Match Tie-break of the doubles match.
 
Italy Send Spain Packing

Simone Bolelli put together another clutch performance for Italy, leading his country to its second straight comeback win at the ARAG ATP World Team Championship on Friday and denying Spain its two chances to reach the final.

Bolelli first defeated Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-3 to level the tie, and then clinched the win for Italy by teaming up with compatriot Potito Starace to a 7-6(2), 6-3 win over Marcel Granollers and Lopez.

Bolelli withstood 11 aces from Lopez in the second singles match, and broke the Spaniard's serve once in each set to secure the win in one hour and 19 minutes. Coming into the match, Lopez had not dropped a set in singles action this week.

On Wednesday, Bolelli had led Italy past Germany with a win in the reverse singles and doubles rubbers. It was Italy's first winning tie at this event since 1984.

Italy, making just its second tournament appearance since 1984, remains undefeated against Spain at the ARAG ATP World Team Championship, adding to their wins in the first two editions of the tournament, in 1978 and ’79.

World No. 5 David Ferrer came through an up-and-down match against Italian Potito Starace 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to place Spain on solid footing going into the final day of round robin action.

In Thursday’s singles match, Ferrer came back from a mid-match lapse that saw Starace roll out to a 5-0 lead in the second set. Ferrer, who managed to win just one game in his first match this week, held and recovered a break of serve to regain some much needed momentum heading into the third set.

He broke Starace to go up 4-2 in the decisive set, and saved four break points as he served out the match in two hours and seven minutes.

Spain was trying to reach the final for the first time since winning their fourth ARAG ATP World Team Championship title in 1997. After a loss to Germany in their opening round robin tie, Spain defeated Russia on Tuesday with wins in both singles matches.
 

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