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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tursunov Hailed Russia's Davis Cup Hero

Russia has discovered a new Davis Cup hero in Dmitry Tursunov.

Tursunov beat Andy Roddick in an epic five-set battle Sunday to give the host the winning point against the United States and a place in the Davis Cup final for the first time in four years.

The California-based Russian prevailed over the U.S. No. 1 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 17-15 after an almost five-hour marathon on Moscow clay in the semifinal.

On Monday, national newspapers hailed the modest 23-year-old as the country's hero.

"Dmitry Tursunov wrote his name into the history books," the headline in Izvestia read.

"Dmitry would have been given the Order of Courage for his heroics 11 years ago," Kommersant Daily wrote, referring to the feat of Andrei Chesnokov in the 1995 Davis Cup semifinal against Germany.

Chesnokov saved nine match points against former Wimbledon champion Michael Stich, at the same Olimpiisky Sports Complex, to lead Russia into the final.

Later that year, President Boris Yeltsin, a big tennis fan, awarded Chesnokov the Order of Courage, one of the country's highest honors.

"It was only [on Sunday] morning I found out I was going to play," Tursunov, who was preferred to world No. 5 Nikolai Davydenko, said afterward.

"I didn't have much time to prepare, to work out a strategy. I had some ideas of how to play him ... but in the fifth set I had no strategy, just tried to fight back."

After his move to the United States 11 years ago, the Moscow-born Tursunov became virtually a forgotten man in Russian tennis.

When he arrived in Moscow for the U.S. tie, Tursunov was well down the pecking order behind former world No. 1 Marat Safin and U.S. Open semifinalists Mikhail Yuzhny and Davydenko.

"Davydenko was not in good physical form, so I had no choice but to take a risk with Tursunov on Sunday," Russia captain Shamil Tarpishchev explained.

Tursunov was modest about his victory over Roddick.

"It wasn't his best surface but the same can be said about myself," he said, who prefers hard courts and grass.

Just as he had done in the match against Roddick, Tursunov quickly grew in confidence at his post-match news conference.

Asked if he would have picked himself for the tie, Tursunov said: "I'd pick myself for all five rubbers except the doubles."

Tursunov and Yuzhny lost to the world No. 1 doubles team, American twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan, on Saturday.

Tursunov is now expected to play a major role in the Davis Cup final with Argentina in Moscow in December when the Russians will certainly chose a fast surface against the clay-court specialists from South America.

"Argentina has a very strong, confident team," he said.

"But so is our team. Certainly, if I get a chance to play in the final, I will not be as nervous as I was now. This match against Roddick has given me a huge confidence boost, no doubt."