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Australia, Spain in semis; Russians dethroned

April 5 (Reuters): Australia and Spain are into the semi-finals of the Davis Cup World Group but champions Russia are out.

Today, both Australia and Spain earned 3-0 unassailable leads in their quarter final ties over Sweden and Croatia, respectively, but in Buenos Aires Argentina knocked champions Russia out, winning the doubles.

Lucas Arnold and David Nalbandian completed a surprisingly straightforward win for the South Americans as they overcame Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Mikhail Youzhny 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

Russia never got to grips with the clay courts built in front of the River Plate stadium, where Argentina won the soccer World Cup in 1978.

In Toulouse Switzerland were leading France 2-1 as the French duo of Nicolas Escude and Fabrice Santoro went down to Roger Federer and Marc Rosset 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (4-7).

In Malmo, Todd Woodbridge and Wayne Arthurs gave Australia the semis berth after a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win over Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Enqvist. On the first day, Lleyton Hewitt and Mark Philippoussis had given Australia a 2-0 lead.

Despite a promising start with three break points in Arthurs’ opening service game, Enqvist and Bjorkman crumbled under pressure.

The match was briefly halted at 3-1 during Enqvist’s serve when Bjorkman accidentally hit Arthurs in the groin with a volley. The Australian collapsed on court in pain but wasted little time in recovering from the episode to continue the clash.

Corretja-Costa wins

In Valencia Alex Corretja and Albert Costa brushed aside Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic and Lovro Zovko to win the doubles 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 and take Spain through to the semi-finals.

Spain, leading 2-0 after singles wins for Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya on the opening day, were untouchable on the red clay at the Valencia Tennis Club as they wrapped up victory in one hour 58 minutes.

On Friday a dogged Argentine team dealt Russia two heavy body blows, snatching both opening singles from the champions.

Dogged claycourter Gaston Gaudio crushed former world number one Yevgeny Kafelnikov 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 as Argentina took a firm lead. Earlier, Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian dispatched Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-2, 7-5.

Switzerland’s Roger Federer humbled local hero Nicolas Escude 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in just two hours. Sebastien Grosjean earlier secured the first point of the tie for the hosts by beating George Bastl in four sets 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

The Aussies had been finding it easy in Malmo from the first day.

Lleyton Hewitt eased the visitors into a 2-0 lead, seeing off Thomas Enqvist 6-4, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4. Mark Philippoussis gave the visitors a flying start by beating doubles specialist Jonas Bjorkman 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

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