Croatia, Spain and Czechs reach Davis Cup semis

Croatia eliminated the United States from the Davis Cup on Sunday to set up a semifinal meeting with the Czech Republic.

updated: July 13, 2009 13:50 IST
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Croatia eliminated the United States from the Davis Cup on Sunday to set up a semifinal meeting with the Czech Republic, which completed an upset win over last year's finalist Argentina.

Defending champion Spain also advanced by edging Germany 3-2 after Juan Carlos Ferrero beat Andreas Beck 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in his first Davis Cup match in four years. Spain will take on Israel, which secured an upset win over Russia on Saturday and split the reverse singles for a 4-1 win.

Croatia's Marin Cilic beat James Blake 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 for an insurmountable 3-1 lead, before American doubles specialist Bob Bryan beat Roko Karanusic 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in a meaningless match.

"I think I played a perfect match against Blake," the 20-year-old Cilic said. "This is one of the most important victories in my career."

Croatia had won both opening singles before Bryan and his twin brother Mike won Saturday's doubles to keep the Americans' chances alive.

The U.S. was playing without Andy Roddick, who withdrew because of a hip injury after losing an epic five-set final to Roger Federer at Wimbledon. That left Blake as the Americans' No. 1 singles player.

"It shows how important Andy is for the team," Blake said. "Being on the No. 2 spot is less pressure than playing on the No. 1 spot."

Croatia will host the Czech Republic in September. The Czechs advanced after Radek Stepanek beat Juan Monaco 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-2 in the deciding match to secure the country's first semifinal appearance since 1996. After converting the match point, Stepanek dropped to the ground in celebration and was embraced by his teammates.

"It's unbelievable," Stepanek said. "And this is not the end. We'll do all we can to get even further. I want to succeed in Davis Cup so much. We'll fight in Croatia to advance to the final."

Spain also had to wait until the last match to secure its 16th straight home win in the competition.

Spain captain Albert Costa replaced Tommy Robredo with Ferrero after Philipp Kohlschreiber had beaten Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-2, 1-6, 2-6, 8-6 to even the contest at the Puerto Banus bullring.

Ferrero, playing his first Davis Cup match since a World Group playoff win over Italy in 2005, triumphed over his less experienced opponent by converting six of his 10 break points.

Israel's Harel Levy beat Igor Kunitsyn 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (2) in the last match against Russia after Dudi Sela had retired with a hand injury in his match against Igor Andreev while trailing 4-3 in the first set.

Israel reached its first Davis Cup semifinal, and Levy, who beat the the 24th-ranked Andreev on Friday, thanked the raucous crowd for their support over the three days.

"This is your 4-1 (victory)," he said. "This is a lovely feeling because this was a great victory for all the national team together."