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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kafelnikov Stars in Russia's Davis Cup Victory

ST. PETERSBURG -- Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov cemented his status as tennis' fastest rising star by leading his Davis Cup team to 4-1 first-round victory over Australia this weekend.

Kafelnikov, 20, was the favorite of the 3,000 fans at the SKK Arena, winning two singles and, with Andrei Olkhovsky, the doubles match.

"We want to give full credit to Kafelnikov, who plays tennis like a top-four player in the world," Australian captain John Newcombe said. "And with a player like that Russia will probably go to the finals."

Australian Pat Rafter, 21, made his Davis Cup debut Friday against Kafelnikov, in a match which Newcombe had touted as a "crackerjack" clash of rising young players. But Rafter, ranked 46 internationally, made numerous mistakes and later admitted to having the jitters. He went quietly, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4.

"I won too easily," said Kafelnikov, ranked 37th. "It is Rafter's first appearance in the Davis Cup. He simply failed to rein himself in psychologically."

In doubles play, Kafelnikov and Olkhovsky won 6-4, 6-0, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, upsetting Wimbeldon doubles champions Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde. Kafelnikov then defeated Jamie Morgan 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 7-5 in the final match, reduced to the best-of-3 sets since the overall result had been decided.

Much had been expected from Alexander Volkov, ranked 19th in the world and the player Russian captain Vadim Borisov had billed as the team leader. But on the opening day, he fell against Jamie Morgan, a little-known player ranked 71st in the world. After winning the opening set, Volkov lost to Morgan, who is recovering from a back injury, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-2), 6-1.

Volkov, 27, double-faulted seven times and faltered badly in the final set despite his fans who shouted, "You must fight, Sasha! Get angry, Sasha!"

Russian captain Borisov subjected a miserable Volkov to a public rebuke. "I am in shock after this match," Borisov said. "I never expected that a player of Volkov's class could play so badly."

Sunday a newly motivated Volkov came out aggressively against Rafter, easily beating him 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 to give Russia the deciding point.

Russia will play the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals at home July 15-17.

Russia began competing independently in the Davis Cup last year. The Soviet Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States were never able to advance past the first round.


Also in the Davis Cup, Marc-Kevin G?llner pulled champion Germany from the brink of defeat in its first round match against Austria on Sunday, Reuters reported.

Austrian Thomas Muster leveled the tie 2-2 by defeating world No. 2 Michael Stich. G?llner defeated Horst Skoff 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-1 to secure a place for Germany in the quarterfinals.

Sergi Bruguera clinched Spain's passage to the quarterfinals, 4-1, in Madrid despite earning a $1,000 fine for shouting abuse at a line judge as he beat Italy's Stefano Pescosolido. Bruguera's five-set victory came after winning only one game in the second and third sets.

Elsewhere, the United States, Sweden and the Netherlands advanced to the quarterfinals with 5-0 victories over India, Denmark and Belgium, respectively. Joining them will be France, a 4-1 winner over Hungary, and the Czech Republic, which downed Israel with a similar score.