The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Russia set up final with France

Moscow: Marat Safin sent Russia into the Davis Cup final beating David Nalbandian of Argentina 7-6, 6-7, 6-0, 6-3 in the first reverse singles of their semi-final on Sunday.

That gave the home side an insurmountable 3-1 lead and set up a clash in the final against France who beat the US in the other semi-final in Paris.

Argentine captain Alejandro Gattiger gambled by replacing his number one player Gaston Gaudio with Nalbandian, who reached the singles final at Wimbledon this year.

After battling each other for nearly two hours and splitting the first two tie-breakers, Safin, using his powerful serve and return, broke Nalbandian three times to wrap-up the third set 6-0 in just 28 minutes.

In the fourth, the former US Open champion forced a decisive break in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead, then held serve to clinch the match and the tie on his fourth opportunity.

The victory put Russia into the final for the third time in eight years.

Earlier, Nalbandian and Lukas Arnold had brought Argentina back into the tie by outlasting Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the longest doubles match in Davis Cup history — six hours 20 minutes — on Saturday.

Safin and Kafelnikov had given Russia a 2-0 lead by beating Juan Ignacio Chela and Gaudio respectively in Friday’s singles.

Roddick loses

Sebastien Grosjean beat Andy Roddick to see France through against US on Sunday to their third Davis Cup final in four years at the Roland Garros in Paris. However, James Blake beat Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-3 in the dead rubber to make the score 3-2.

In the 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory Grosjean showed some astonishing recovery power from injury. The Frenchman had twisted his ankle before the match, only days after nearly pulling out from with a stiff back.

“I got injured in training but with the strapping it held well,” he said. With such an extraordinary crowd, I had an enormous craving for victory. This year, we’ve played all our matches at home in front of a great public.”

The French number one can count on the same kind of support in the final, whether it is held in Bercy or in his hometown of Marseille, another venue which is being considered.

Captain Forget invited Parisians to come in masses for the final if it is held in the French capital. “If the final is in Paris, I hope we can count on you,” he yelled at the audience.

“We cannot imagine anything more beautiful than an atmosphere like this at Roland Garros,” he said.

Meanwhile, Britain edged out Thailand 3-2 at Birmingham in their Davis Cup world group qualifier Sunday to book their place in the elite 16. Tim Henman sealed it for the Englishmen when he outclassed Paradorn Srichaphan 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in the first reverse singles. Thailand reduced the margin when Danai Udomchoke beat Arvind Parmar 6-3, 6-1.

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