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Rafa Wraps It Up For Spain

World Group, First Round

Rafael Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal

ATP World Tour Champion Rafael Nadal extended his Davis Cup winning streak to 12 matches and sealed Spain’s victory over Serbia with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 win Sunday over World No. 3 Novak Djokovic in Benidorm, Spain. Nadal’s victory ensured that defending champion Spain would host its second consecutive home tie in July’s quarter-finals against Germany.

Nadal now boasts an 11-4 career record against his Serbian rival, including 6-0 on clay. The Spaniard has won five of his past six meetings against Djokovic, who suffered an upset loss on Day 1 of the tie against David Ferrer.

In his opening singles Nadal cruised to a 6-1, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Janko Tipsarevic - the three games lost were the fewest in a Davis Cup match. The 22-year-old Spaniard improved to 14-2 on the season in his 2009 clay court debut. Since 2005 Nadal has compiled a 133-4 record on clay.

"The surface favored me, the ball was jumping high," Nadal said of his win over Djokovic. "I felt comfortable and he committed more errors than usual.

"We are playing at home again in the quarters and that gives us a great chance of making it to the semis."

Spain has not lost a home Davis Cup tie since 1999.

Djokovic paid tribute to Nadal after the match: "He showed why he’s the best in the world and so dominant on this surface. It’s hard to play against someone like Nadal who makes the transition from defence to offence so fast."

Russia 4 Romania 1

Iron man Dmitry Tursunov rallied from two sets down to book Russia’s place in the quarter-finals with a 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Romania’s Victor Hanescu. Tursunov had one day earlier toiled for four hours only to lose 8-6 in the fifth set of the doubles rubber with Marat Safin against Marius Copil and Horia Tecau – all while Hanescu was able to rest.

But Tursunov, who fired 17 aces and loaded up with 34 forehand winners (to Hanescu’s 11), enhanced his reputation as one of the game’s fittest players with a 3 hr., 46 min. win. In the 2006 semi-finals Tursunov defeated American Andy Roddick 17-15 in the fifth set one day after playing the doubles rubber.

The Russians next will travel to Israel after a stunning final day in Malmo, where Israel won both reverse singles in five sets to stun Sweden. (Read more)

U.S.A. 3 Switzerland 1

Andy Roddick produced a typically-heavy serving performance to shut out Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 and guide the U.S.A. safely into the quarter-finals with a 3-1 defeat of Switzerland in Birmingham, Alabama.

Roddick bombed 14 aces, won 79 percent of points on his first serve and 70 percent of points on his second serve to book America’s away quarter-final tie with Croatia in July. Roddick won his 31st Davis Cup singles match, second only to John McEnroe for most matches won by an American.

Others

In the two ties that had already been decided after Saturday's doubles, Argentina won both dead singles rubbers to rout The Netherlands 5-0 and Croatia pushed on to a 5-0 win over Chile.

Czechs Snap France's Davis Cup Streak; Kiefer Seals Germany's Win

The Czech Republic handed France a rare first-round Davis Cup defeat after 30-year-old Radek Stepanek upset World No. 8 Gilles Simon 7-6(2), 6-3, 7-6(0) in Ostrava. Stepanek, who on Saturday teamed with Tomas Berdych to win the pivotal doubles rubber (d. Gasquet/Llodra), atoned for his straight-sets loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the opening singles.

Stepanek has a 17-4 record on the ATP World Tour season, winning two titles in Brisbane and San Jose and reaching the Memphis final in his most recent tournament appearance.

The Czech Republic will host 2008 finalist Argentina in July.

“It’s an amazing feeling to steal three points from the French," Stepanek said. "They have such a talented team with guys who have been winning so many matches this season. But Tomas and I are feeling great. We are feeling fit and we are very excited to play another tough tie against Argentina in the quarter-finals."

France had reached the quarter-finals or better for eight straight years between 2001-08, but now will fight to retain its hold on a World Group place in September’s play-off round.

It was a forgettable Davis Cup debut for Simon, who lost his opening singles on Friday in four sets to Tomas Berdych.

Germany 3  Austria 2

Germany’s decision to call in Nicolas Kiefer for the first reverse singles against Austrian Jurgen Melzer proved a masterstroke as the veteran took out the left-handed Austrian 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-4 to clinch victory for the home team. It was Kiefer’s first tour-level appearance of the season and the 10th Davis Cup singles victory of his career.

Kiefer fired 14 aces and dropped just seven points on his first serve. But it was an otherwise workmanlike performance – Kiefer hit just eight winners.

Israel 3  Sweden 2

Harel Levy was the hero Israel's dramatic 3-2 victory over host nation Sweden when he defeated Andreas Vinciguerra 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 8-6 in the fifth and deciding rubber in Malmo. Earlier in the day Dudi Sela beat Swedish veteran Thomas Johansson 3-6, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to level the tie at 2-2.

Levy improved his perfect record in five-set matches to 5-0.

All four singles rubbers went five sets in the dramatic tie, played in front of empty stands due to security fears. Ironically, Levy lost his opening singles 8-6 in the fifth to Johansson. And a courageous Vinciguerra, who hadn't played a tour-level match since 2006 due to knee injuries, lost 11-9 in the fifth to Sela.

The only rubber that didn't go five sets was the doubles rubber, which Sweden won in four sets to take the advantage after day two. It is the first time in Sweden's 84-year Davis Cup history that it has lost a tie from 2-1 up.

It was an emotional victory for Levy, who last year lost the fifth and deciding rubber against Jonas Bjorkman in Tel Aviv.

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