Spain and Argentina on course for final showdown

Spain and Argentina used their home clay-court advantage to move closer to a Davis Cup final showdown after taking control of the semi-finals. In Madrid Rafael Nadal beat Sam Querrey while David Ferrer ground out a win over Andy Roddick.


Spain, two-time winners, opened up a 2-0 lead over defending champions USA with world number one Rafael Nadal outclassing debutant Sam Querrey 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 inside Madrid's intimidating, 22,000-capacity Las Ventas bullring.

David Ferrer, the man nicknamed 'The Bulldozer', then ground out a 7-6 (7/5), 2-6, 1-6, 6-4, 8-6 win over Andy Roddick.

In Buenos Aires, David Nalbandian eased past Igor Andreev 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 6-4 to give Argentina the lead over two-time champions Russia before 19-year-old Juan Martin del Potro extended his summer streak to 24 wins in 25 matches by easing past world number six Nikolay Davydenko 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.

"I'm very happy. I came here short on energy and strength after a long season and Sam was playing very well," said Nadal, the Olympic, French Open and Wimbledon champion.

Roddick, who went into Friday's rubber with Ferrer boasting a 29-9 Davis Cup record, said: "I thought I played pretty well. The level from both players was high, especially in the fourth and fifth set."

Should Argentina complete victory over Russia, they will have home advantage in December's final when they will be bidding for a first Davis Cup title after twice finishing runners-up.

In the play-offs, where the winners will be guaranteed places in the 2009 World Group, US Open runner-up Andy Murray pulled Great Britain level 1-1 with Austria at Wimbledon.

The Scot made quick work of Alexander Peya, racing to a 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 victory on Wimbledon's Court One to cancel out Jurgen Melzer's 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2, 6-1 victory over Alex Bogdanovic.

In Lausanne, Switzerland were 2-0 to the good against Belgium.

Stanislas Wawrinka needed four hours to see off Steve Darcis 6-7 (3/7), 6-1, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 before world number two and Roger Federer eased past close friend Kristof Vliegen 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 6-2.

"I grew up here a little bit," said Federer after his 25th Davis Cup win.

"I was here between 14 and 16. I was away from home, playing at the site of the federation, I learned the French language here, I got homesick here. And then Stan is born here, that makes it extra special."

Australia, who have won the Davis Cup 28 times, slipped 1-0 down to Chile on the clay courts of Antofagasta where former Olympic champion Nicolas Massu beat plucky Chris Guccione 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 7-6 (7/2).

The Aussies, without injured talisman Lleyton Hewitt, will be looking to unheralded Peter Luczak to upset Fernando Gonzalez in the second rubber.

In Bratislava, world number three Novak Djokovic gave Serbia a 1-0 lead over Slovakia, the 2005 runners-up, with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 over Dominik Hrbaty.

Mario Ancic gave 2005 champions Croatia a perfect start in their tie against Brazil in Zadar.

The injury-plagued Ancic saw off Thomaz Bellucci 6-2, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3) before Ivo Karlovic beat Thiago Alves 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 to make it 2-0 to Croatia.

In Bucharest, India lost both their opening singles to go 2-0 down to Romania.

Victor Crivoi put Romania ahead, beating Prakash Amritraj 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, before Victor Hanescu sent Somdev Devvarman packing 6-3, 6-1, 6-0.

The Netherlands and South Korea were level at 1-1 in Apeldoorn after Jess Huta Galung beat Im Kyu-Tae 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 following Lee Hyung-Taik's 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win against Thiemo De Bakker.

Israel and Peru were also level at 1-1 at Ramat Hasharon with Luis Horna giving the South Americans the lead with a 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 win over Harel Levy before Dudi Sela saw off Ivan Miranda 6-2, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.

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