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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Takes Early Lead Against Sweden

GOTHENBURG, Sweden -- American Todd Martin, playing only the second Davis Cup match of his career, scored an impressive four-set victory over Swedish No. 1 Stefan Edberg to give the United States a 1-0 lead in their semifinal Friday.


Martin, who had beaten Edberg three times in their previous four meetings, won the opening rubber 6-2 2-6 6-4 6-3 to capture what his Swedish opponent had predicted would be the key match of the contest.


Martin won the first set comfortably but looked to be in serious trouble when Edberg reeled off seven successive games to take the second set and a 2-0 lead in the third.


But the American, sixth in the world rankings -- a place behind Edberg -- fought back with the help of some poor serving by the Swede and some intelligent play of his own to win the last four games and capture the third set.


Sweden, seeking only its second Davis Cup victory over the United States in seven meetings and a place in the final for the first time in five years -- 10 years after beating the Americans in the final in the same Scandinavium arena -- was relying on Edberg scoring a crucial victory over Martin.


But after the former world No. 1 came back powerfully from losing the first set, he lost his rhythm and hold on the match. Once he started to give Martin easy points Edberg's poise and will to win disappeared and the American powered to victory in just under two hours.


The final four games summed up Edberg's hot-and-cold performance. After having his serve broken for the fifth time and going 4-2 down in the fourth set, Edberg broke back immediately. But in the eighth game he started with a double fault, was broken again and could find no way back.


Martin, 24, said: "I have a lot of respect for Stefan, and I think when you play against someone you respect you try to play that much better.


"He played very well after losing the first set and got on top of me quickly and I was in a lot of trouble. But (U.S. captain) Tom Gullikson helped get me up again and I took my opportunities."


It was a perfect start for the American team, but anything can happen in the Davis Cup.


"I don't think (the next match) is a gimme," Martin said. "I think it's going to be a good match and hopefully Pete will come through."


Pete Sampras, who is ranked No. 1 in the world but has a less impressive Davis Cup record, played Magnus Larsson in the other singles match in the best-of-5 series later Friday.


(Reuters, AP)


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At the Moscow Ladies Open on Friday, top seed Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria and No. 4 seed Sandra Cecchini of Italy advanced to Saturday's finals of the $150,000 tournament at the Olympic Sports Arena.Cecchini upset No. 2 seed Sabine Appelmans of Belgium, 7-5, 6-3, while Maleeva overcame a first-set deficit to beat Yelena Makarova of Russia, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.


"I think it was both the mental and the physical that gave me the advantage at the end," Maleeva said after the match. "She played really well and was able to run a lot of balls down, and she did not give up."


Cecchini savored her victory over the 22nd-ranked player in the world.


"Yes, I would call it an upset," Cecchini said. "The first set was really close, but she got tired at the end of the match. Nevertheless, she didn't give it away. I had to win it on my own."


Appelmans said she was disappointed with her loss and that she had been tired from Thursday's action."My doubles match ended up very late and today we had a lot of long rallies, because she likes to keep the ball in play," the Belgian said.


Saturday's final is scheduled for 2 P.M. (MT)


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INGLEWOOD, California -- Andre Agassi rallied to beat Michael Chang 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 Thursday in the Forum Tennis Challenge exhibition match.


Agassi, ranked ninth on the ATP Tour after winning the U.S. Open earlier this month, lost the first set by double-faulting at game point twice and committing 10 unforced errors. Chang is ranked No. 8.


Agassi won the last two games of the final set and broke Chang's serve when Chang hit a backhand long. (AP)