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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. and Russia Advance in Davis Cup




BIRMINGHAM, England -- The United States and Russia both advanced to the Davis Cup quarterfinals after weekend victories over Britain and Germany, respectively.


In England, Jim Courier chose a noisy arena on Sunday to show why the quarterfinals will be worth watching.


The former world No. 1 outlasted big-serving Greg Rusedski in five action-packed sets to clinch a 3-2 victory for the United States over Britain. He earned that July 16-18 quarterfinal tie against another old adversary at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, where it all began against the British in 1900.


This best-of-five series was tied a 2-2 with a sellout crowd of 9,300 in Birmingham, willing Britain on to the first victory over the Americans since the Fred Perry days of 1935.


Tim Henman had beaten Todd Martin 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), and the fans were thirsting for another American defeat.


Courier made sure it didn't happen.


He called on his renowned reserves of concentration and will to win to ensure that Rusedski, having taken the fourth set 6-1, didn't break through again. And, after triumphing 6-4, 6-7 (7-3), 6-3, 1-6, 8-6, he called the rest of the team onto the court to start celebrating.


American team captain Tom Gullikson was full of praise for Courier's performance.


"There is no one I would rather have had play the fifth match," Gullikson said. "Jim's won the fifth match for us many times. This is the guy you want there when it is crunch time."


That may effectively rule out any return to this year's Davis Cup for Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, even if they want to play.


In Frankfurt, Germany, teenager Marat Safin earned Russia a 3-2 victory over Germany in their Davis Cupfirst round tie on Sunday by beating Nicolas Kiefer 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the decisive singles match.


Safin's triumph set up a quarterfinal tie against Slovakia, which upset holders Sweden 3-2.


World No. 3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov had earlier crushed Tommy Haas 6-3 6-4 6-2 to level the tie at 2-2.


Safin and Kiefer each dropped serve once in the first set, going to a tie-break, which Safin took 11-9 with a winning return.


The second set was close until Safin wrapped it up with another brilliant return. The Russian, who burst into the limelight last year by reaching the quarterfinals at both the U.S. and French opens, opened a 4-0 lead in the third set.


But Kiefer refused to surrender and won the next four games until Safin regained command and hit a forehand winner on his first match point.


"I became a bit nervous in the last set and I started making a lot of mistakes," said Safin. "This is a great moment for me. I love playing for Russia and winning the decisive match is something special."


Kafelnikov, who beat Haas in straights sets in the semifinals on his way to the Australian Open title in January, again beat the German comfortably.


In other quarterfinals matches, Brazil, which scored another surprise victory, 3-2 in Spain, faces France, which downed the Netherlands 3-2. And Belgium, having beaten the Czech Republic 3-2, faces Switzerland, which downed last year's losing finalist, Italy, also 3-2.