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Israel Takes Shock 2-0 Lead; All-Square In Spain


Fernando Verdasco© Getty ImagesVerdasco clinched the Davis Cup trophy for Spain in 2008.

Israel 2 Russia 0

Israel took a shock 2-0 lead over two-time champion Russia after a pulsating day’s play in the Davis Cup quarter-finals in Tel Aviv on Friday.

“It’s an amazing result,” enthused Dudi Sela. “I didn’t believe that after the first day we were going to get the two points. I was expecting one point, but two is an amazing feeling and hopefully tomorrow is going to be the third one."

In the first match of the day, World No. 210 Harel Levy overcame a gap of 186 places in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings to stun No. 24 Igor Andreev 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 and give the host nation a 1-0 lead.

Levy reached a career-high South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking of No. 30 on 25 June, 2001, but after suffering a potentially career-ending hip injury later that season the right-hander had struggled to find his top form. The 30 year old broke Andreev’s serve six times and fired 32 winners, while also capitalising on 70 unforced errors from the Russian, to secure victory after two hours and 51 minutes as Andreev made a backhand error.

Dudi Sela then rallied back from a one-set deficit to defeat Mikhail Youzhny 3-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 and secure the 2-0 overnight advantage. Currently a career-high No. 33 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, Sela converted seven of 14 break point chances to wrap up the crucial victory in two hours and 48 minutes. Last week, the 24 year old posted a personal-best fourth-round effort at Wimbledon (l. to Djokovic) and was a semi-finalist at Memphis (l. to Stepanek) earlier in the season.

"I started the match a little bit nervously," confessed Sela. "He served pretty well in the first set and then as the match went on his serve got worse and I think I took advantage."

In just its eighth appearance in the World Group, Israel is on the verge of reaching the semi-finals for the first time. Russia, champion in 2002 and '06 will need to come back from 0-2 down for the first time since its 1995 semi-final victory over Germany if it is to progress.

Spain 1 Germany 1

The World Group quarter-final clash between three-time former champions Spain and Germany is finely poised at 1-1 after the first day's play on clay in Plaza de Toros de Puerto Banus, Marbella.

Defending champion Spain endured a nervous start as World No. 9 Fernando Verdasco rallied from a two-sets-to-one deficit to edge out Andreas Beck 6-0, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-1.

Despite losing the first seven games of the match, the No. 51-ranked Beck recovered to take a surprise lead in the match. Verdasco hit back though and four breaks of serve in the final two sets carried the Madrid native to victory after three hours and 10 minutes.

The 25-year-old Verdasco, coming off a fourth-round showing (l. to Karlovic) at Wimbledon, was a hero for Spain in the 2008 World Group final as he defeated Argentina’s Jose Acasuso in five sets in the fourth rubber to win the trophy for his country. That success has inspired a stellar 2009 season from the left-hander, with a semi-final effort at the Australian Open (l. to Nadal) and a runner-up finish in Brisbane (l. to Stepanek) among his highlights.

Philipp Kohlschreiber hit back in the second rubber to comfortably defeat Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to clip the Spaniards' lead.

"I really played a very good match today, good tactics and also the chances I had I took them," commented Kohlschreiber. "It was really a great day."

Spain has won its past 15 ties at home and has not lost a clay-court tie in its past 17 efforts.

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