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Russia wins Davis Cup, with Safin beating Acasuso in decisive match

Russia wins Davis Cup, with Safin beating Acasuso in decisive match

The surface didn't stop Marat Safin this time.
The two-time Grand Slam champion beat Jose Acasuso 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) Sunday in the fifth and deciding match to give Russia a 3-2 win over Argentina and its second Davis Cup title.
"There were some very difficult moments today. It was tough to control the match," Safin said. "Everything worked out, thank God."
Safin lost his opening singles match Friday, blaming the indoor carpet at the Olympic Stadium for the setback. But neither the surface nor his lingering knee injuries stopped him this time.
"This is probably the most important win in the last two years," said Safin, who had 16 aces in the match.
David Nalbandian, who beat Safin on Friday, won the opening reverse singles match Sunday to even the score at 2-2. The eighth-ranked Argentine downed Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to put Safin on the spot.
"I was under pressure and I was pretty scared," Safin said. "I didn't want to let this cup go away."
Russia won the title for the second time, but only the first time at home. Sweden topped the host Russians in the 1994 final, and the United States beat them a year later. Russia won its only previous title four years ago in France.
Davydenko, a U.S. Open semifinalist and ranked third in the world, missed his chance to win the best-of-five series early in the day. He quickly dropped the first two sets to Nalbandian, won the third and threatened in the fourth, but couldn't hold on.
"I wasn't nervous in the locker room, but when I got out onto the court it was a totally different story _ I froze up," Davydenko said. "When you tighten up, your muscles lose feeling and you wonder how to play tennis."
Safin, a two-time Grand Slam champion, had been drawn to play Juan Ignacio Chela in the final match, but Argentina captain Alberto Mancini replaced him with Acasuso, who had not yet played in the final and was unbeaten in his four previous Davis Cup matches this year.
The Russian easily won the first set, breaking Acasuso in the second game before coasting on serve. In the second set, Acasuso saved two break points in the fifth game and then broke Safin in the next to go up 4-2 before holding to even the match.
The Argentine saved two break points in his first service game of the third set, but Safin beat him with a forehand passing shot after the fifth deuce and took a 3-0 lead.
After returning to the court with his right foot taped up following a time out, Acasuso broke Safin with a sharp backhand to close the gap to 4-3. Back on serve, the Argentine netted three forehands to lose the following game at love, and Safin held on to take the set.
Both played defensively in the fourth set and traded service wins to force a tiebreaker. Trailing 6-4, Acasuso saved one match point on Safin's serve, but then netted a forehand from the baseline after a short rally.
"I was sure Acasuso would play, and I was sure Marat would beat him. Marat is a fighter, he has experience and knows well what to do and when to do it to reach his goal," Russia captain Shamil Tarpishchev said. "That's what Acasuso lacks."
Mancini stood by his choice.
"Jose was really fresh ... and I thought his game was better to face Safin," Mancini said.
Davydenko, who got married last weekend, beat Chela in Friday's opening match before Nalbandian beat Safin. On Saturday, Russia took a 2-1 lead when Safin and Dmitry Tursunov topped Nalbandian and Agustin Calleri in doubles.
Argentina lost in its only previous final, to the United States in 1981.


Updated : 2021-10-19 01:06 GMT+08:00