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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Flops in Davis Cup Down Under




BRISBANE, Australia -- Wayne Arthurs upset world No. 2 Yevgeny Kafelnikov 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-0 on Friday to lift Australia to a commanding 2-0 lead over Russia in its Davis Cup semifinal.


Playing his first Davis Cup match at the ripe old age of 28, Arthurs outplayed his more accomplished opponent after Australian teenager Lleyton Hewitt crushed Marat Safin in the first match 7-6, (7-0), 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.


On Thursday, Kafelnikov, the reigning Australian Open champion, was quick to seize on Arthurs' relative inexperience in high-pressure matches, predicting he would easily beat the Australian.


"Put it this way, if we are 1-1 after tomorrow, Australia can be very happy," Kafelnikov said.


But the Russians never looked comfortable on the grass-court surface at Brisbane's ANZ Stadium, making fundamental mistakes while their opponents flourished.


Hewitt, who made his Davis Cup debut in July in the quarterfinals against the United States, got the ball rolling when he overcame a shaky start to demoralize Safin.


"Once I got on top of him, he basically just chucked in the towel," the Australian said.


Playing on grass for only the second time in his career, Safin appeared nervous and was often distracted by the capacity crowd.


"In my whole life, I have never played like that," a dejected Safin said.


Safin, the hero of Russia's quarterfinal win over the Slovak Republic in July, reached set point on Hewitt's serve in the 10th game of the first set but failed to convert his chance as Hewitt took control of the match with his more reliable serve-and-volley game.


Hewitt took the set when he rattled off seven points in succession in the tiebreaker then won the second with two breaks of serve.


The Adelaide teenager, who has climbed to a ranking of 31 in the world, also looked to be in control of the third set when he led 3-0 and 4-2 before momentarily losing concentration.


Safin fought back to take the set but was unable to continue his momentum in the fourth as Hewitt regained control, clinching victory after two hours and 39 minutes.


Arthurs was just as dominant against Kafelnikov, the reigning Australian Open champion.


He caught the Russian by surprise in the first set with his booming serve, then dropped the second when Kafelnikov's experience got him through the tiebreaker.


Arthurs struck back to take the third to break Kafelnikov's spirit before running away with the fourth.


"I've never performed worse than that in my life," Kafelnikov said.