Sweden, Germany Take 2-0 Leads In Davis Cup Quarterfinals

Friday, April 6th 2007, 2:45 pm
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ Sweden and Germany took 2-0 leads Friday after the opening singles matches in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Defending champion Russia, however, needed a five-set win from an ailing Mikhail Youzhny to level the score 1-1 with France on the first day of the best-of-five series.

Thomas Johansson and Robin Soderling both won to give seven-time champion Sweden the lead over Argentina on carpet in Goteborg. Tommy Haas and Philipp Kohlschreiber were the winners for Germany on indoor clay in Ostend, Belgium.

Later Friday, the United States hosted Spain on indoor hard courts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Spain was playing without the injured Rafael Nadal, the second-ranked player in the world.

Paul-Henri Mathieu rallied to beat Nikolay Davydenko 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 in the first match on indoor clay in Moscow, but Youzhny later downed Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-3, 6-7 (8), 5-7, 8-6.

Youzhny was hurt in the ninth game of the third set when he slipped on the court. He then had to have his thigh and shin massaged in a medical time-out, and Russia captain Shamil Tarpishchev continued to massage Youzhny during the changeovers throughout the match.

Gasquet saved two match points shortly after the fall and forced the tiebreaker. He saved another two match points in the tiebreaker.

``I really had cramps in the third set but it was much better in the fifth one,'' Youzhny said.

Both players held serve in the fifth set, and Gasquet saved two more match points on Youzhny's serve in the 14th game before the Russian finally converted his seventh match point.

``I weakened in the fifth set and had cramps in my hand and could not serve well,'' Gasquet said.

Davydenko dominated Mathieu in the first set, but the Frenchman soon dragged the Russian into long rallies and trapped him in the corners, leaving the court wide open.

``After 6-2 down in the first set, I tried to keep on going and play my game,'' Mathieu said. ``I did my best and my victory gave confidence to my team.''

The Russians haven't loss to France since 1983, and beat them in the 2002 final for their first Davis Cup title. They are hoping to become the first defending champions to reach the semifinals since 2001 champion France reached the last four the following year.

The winner will face either Germany of Belgium in the semifinals in September.

Johansson beat 12th-ranked David Nalbandian 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2), 6-2, 7-6 (0), and Soderling downed Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4 to give Sweden the edge.

Johansson relied on his big first serve to win the fourth-set tiebreaker at the Masshallen indoor arena. The 2002 Australian Open champion served three aces and his last _ his 33rd in the match_ set up match point.

``I played a great tiebreaker in the fourth set,'' Johansson said. ``I didn't serve well in the first set. I was nervous and passive. You have to play aggressive tennis on this surface.''

Soderling broke Del Potro for the first time to lead 5-3 in the third set _ the first break in the match.

If Sweden wins, it will face either the United States or Spain in the last four.

Haas gave Germany the lead over Belgium by beating an injured Kristof Vliegen 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4, 6-2. Kohlschreiber then downed Olivier Rochus 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (4).

Haas, ranked 10th in the world, struggled on the slow clay and received some unexpected help when Vliegen hurt his back late in the second set.

``I wanted to finish it off and get the first point. You never know what can happen,'' Haas said.

Kohlschreiber, who was surprisingly picked over Florian Mayer, was playing in the Davis Cup for the first time. But the German, picking tight angles and moving quickly all over court, silenced the home crowd and pushed Rochus to frustration.