Australia ousted by Belgium at Davis Cup

Monday, February 12th 2007, 6:32 am
By: News On 6

Australia got a victory from Lleyton Hewitt on Sunday, but it was not enough to prevent its first-round exit from the Davis Cup by Belgium.

The Belgians won 3-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals with defending champion Russia, which survived a scare at Chile and escaped with a 3-2 victory.

Spain, the United States, Argentina, Germany, France and Sweden also reached the quarters, which will be April 6-8. The pairings are: U.S.-Spain, France-Russia, Germany-Belgium and Sweden-Argentina.

Kristof Vliegen delivered the winning point for host Belgium in Liege, beating Chris Guccione 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the second reverse singles. Earlier, Hewitt kept Australia alive by downing Olivier Rochus 6-2, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 3-6, 6-1.

``This is phenomenal,'' said Vliegen, who beat Hewitt in five sets Friday. ``It's the biggest moment of my career _ a dream.''

Australian Open finalist Fernando Gonzalez beat Marat Safin 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 to put Chile even with Russia in La Serena, but Igor Andreev finished it off by downing Nicolas Massu 6-2, 6-1, 6-7 (1), 6-4.

Spain, playing without the injured Rafael Nadal, beat Switzerland 3-2 in Geneva. Fernando Verdasco earned the winning point by downing Stephane Bohli 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.

The Americans, which beat the Czech Republic 4-1, got their deciding point from Andy Roddick, who is 8-0 with victory on the line. The fourth-ranked Roddick beat Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4).

``As far as the weight of the situation goes, it definitely could be one of my best matches on clay,'' Roddick said.

Bob Bryan earned the final point for the 31-time champions by beating Lukas Dlouhy 7-6 (5), 6-4 in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Also, it was: France 4, Romania 1; Germany 3, Croatia 2; Sweden 3, Belarus 2; and Argentina 4, Austria 1.

Verdasco converted five of eight break points and took advantage of Bohli's 33 unforced errors. Marco Chiudinelli beat David Ferrer 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the fifth match.

The second-ranked Nadal was expected to play in the first round, but he injured a muscle before Friday's opening singles. Bohli, ranked 278th, replaced the injured Stanislas Wawrinka.

Top-ranked Roger Federer ruled himself out of the match in November so he could concentrate on keeping his No. 1 ranking.

Argentina, which lost to Russia in last year's final, clinched the win over Austria when Juan Martin Del Potro beat Juergen Melzer 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in Linz, Austria. Guillermo Canas earned the last point by beating Alexander Peya 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Tommy Haas won the deciding point for Germany at home in Krefeld, beating Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 6-2, 7-6 (7), 6-4. The eighth-ranked Croat had 18 aces, including one on his second serve, but also made 42 unforced errors.

``I'm very proud of my performance. I'm happy I could get the third point,'' Haas said. ``We weren't the favorites. This is very good. We have been very close during the past couple of years but couldn't advance.''

Marin Cilic won the fifth match, beating Benjamin Becker 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.

Richard Gasquet won France's third point at Clermont-Ferrand, beating Andrei Pavel of Romania 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. Arnaud Clement then beat Florin Mergea 7-5, 7-6 (3) in the final match.

Robin Soderling downed Max Mirnyi 6-7 (8), 7-5, 6-7 (8), 7-6 (3), 6-3 to give Sweden its third point at Belarus. Vladimir Voltchkov then pulled one back for the hosts by beating Thomas Johansson 6-4, 7-5.