• Russia Takes 2-1 Lead over Czechs into Sunday Singles

    4/13/08 6:54 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Russia Takes 2-1 Lead over Czechs into Sunday Singles Igor Andreev and Nikolay Davydenko rally from one set down to give Russia a 2-1 lead in its Davis Cup quarterfinal tie with the Czech Republic. On Sunday Andreev will take on Tomas Berdych and Marat Safin would meet Stepanek if a fifth rubber is necessary.

    Igor Andreev and Nikolay Davydenko showed their doubles inexperience early in Saturday’s critical rubber against the Czech team of Radek Stepanek and Pavel Vizner, but the Russian duo got it together to win 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. The victory gives Russia a 2-1 lead in the Davis Cup tie heading into Sunday’s reverse singles.

    If the current lineup holds, Andreev will have a chance to come right back out on Sunday and put the exclamation point on this quarterfinal clash between two high-powered tennis countries. He is set to take on Tomas Berdych in the final day’s first singles rubber. Both Andreev and Berdych are coming off losses on Friday. Andreev fell in straight sets to Stepanek while Berdych blew a seemingly insurmountable two sets to love lead against Marat Safin.

    Andreev and Berdych have only met one time in their careers, but it came just over a week ago in the quarterfinals of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. Berdych won that hard-court match in relatively comfortable fashion 6-4, 6-4. Playing on clay and in front of a raucous Russian crowd, however, should give Andreev a much more realistic chance for victory this time around. The Russian, with his heavy topspin forehand, is far more dangerous on clay, whereas the 6’5’’ Berdych prefers faster courts on which he can take advantage of his power game. Berdych still has to be considered the favorite, but Andreev has good shot under these circumstances. It will also be interesting to see how the Czech bounces back from his devastating loss to Safin.

    If Berdych is able to pull off the win and level the tie at 2-2, it will all come down to Safin and Stepanek. The head-to-head series is tied 1-1 although both of those contests came way back in 2004 and neither one was played on clay. Stepanek has been playing much better tennis than his Russian counterpart recently, but you just never know what you’re going to get from Safin. The mercurial Russian has barely been able to win a match this year, and after getting down two sets to Berdych on Friday, it looked like his dismal form would continue. Somehow, Safin righted the ship and pulled off the improbable victory. Will he be able to produce a similar miracle on Sunday if required to do so?

    That is anyone’s guess, but if the Russians have it their way, Andreev won’t let it come to that.

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