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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Safin Is Russia's Davis Cup Savior Again

LONDON -- Marat Safin once again proved Russia's Davis Cup hero of the hour, putting the defending champion into the semifinals with a victory in the deciding rubber against France on Sunday.

The former world No. 1's 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Paul-Henri Mathieu gave Russia a 3-2 win and a place in September's semifinals against Germany.

Safin had performed a similarly vital role in four previous deciding rubbers in Davis Cup, including in last year's final when he clinched victory over Argentina to give the Russians their second title.

Sunday's win in Moscow's Luzhniki Arena kept intact Russia's unbeaten record at home since the 1995 final.

Germany, Sweden and the United States had already secured semifinal places after Saturday's doubles.

Germany failed to complete a fifth successive whitewash of neighbors Belgium on Sunday. The Belgians won both the reverse singles in Ostend to make the final score 3-2.

Former champions Sweden, which will host the United States in the Sept. 21-23 semifinals, finished with a 4-1 win over Argentina after Jonas Bjorkman won the first of the reverse singles for the home side in Gothenburg and Juan-Martin Del Potro took a consolation point for the visitors.

Safin, the world No. 27, had been dropped from Saturday's doubles because of a foot injury. He wore a bandage on Sunday but still dominated the match against Mathieu, who was unable to break the big Russian.

The rubber was the shortest match of the three-day tie and Safin, a late replacement for Mikhail Youzhny, declared that the outcome had never been in question.

"I had no doubts that I would win," he told reporters. "And confidence is everything in tennis."

Sebastien Grosjean had leveled the tie at 2-2 earlier Sunday by beating Igor Andreyev 7-5, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the first reverse singles.

World No. 4 Nikolai Davydenko, who replaced Safin for the doubles, and Andreyev beat Grosjean and Michael Llodra 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 on Saturday after Friday's opening singles had ended all square with wins for Mathieu and Youzhny.

Russia will have home advantage again against Germany in September, and France captain Guy Forget said he expected another Russian victory.

"They are the best team in the world," Forget told reporters. "They can win again this year."

The 18-year-old Del Potro's 7-6, 6-4 win over Robert Lindstedt in Sunday's final, dead rubber, was the only bright spot for Argentina who struggled with the fast, indoor carpet surface in Gothenburg's Convention Center.

Seven-times champions Sweden will have choice of surface again when they play the Americans in the last four.

Led by world No. 3 Andy Roddick, the Americans had wrapped up their win over Spain by the end of the second day in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The United States ended up 4-1 winners after sharing Sunday's concluding singles.