Federer routs Escude in straight sets

Updated: April 10, 2004, 8:54 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

MINSK, Belarus -- Boosted by big serves, Max Mirnyi and Vladimir Voltchkov won in straight sets Friday, lifting Belarus to a 2-0 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Voltchkov compiled eight aces and 28 winners to surprise Agustin Calleri 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the opening singles match on indoor carpet. Calleri had won nine straight Davis Cup matches.

Mirnyi breezed past Guillermo Canas 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

Belarus can clinch a semifinal berth against either the United States or Sweden by winning Saturday's doubles match in the best-of-five series.

Mirnyi and Voltchkov will team against Lucas Arnold and Calleri.

Voltchkov had been out of action since injuring his leg during Belarus' first-round upset of 2002 Davis Cup champion Russia in February.

"I was waiting for just one of his mistakes, but this never happened," Calleri said.

Mirnyi had even less trouble against Canas, who was called up as a last-minute substitute because Guillermo Coria had back spasms that forced him to quit during last weekend's Nasdaq-100 Open final against Andy Roddick.

France, Switzerland even
LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Top-ranked Roger Federer beat Nicolas Escude in straight sets Friday, and Arnaud Clement overwhelmed Ivo Heuberger, leaving France and Switzerland tied 1-1 in their Davis Cup quarterfinal.

Reigning Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Federer put the hosts ahead with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Escude.

But Clement evened the best-of-five series for France with his 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 win against Heuberger, who was playing for his country for the first time in five years.

The French team is without its top player, Wimbledon semifinalist Sebastien Grosjean, who withdrew because of a viral infection.

In Saturday's doubles match, Federer will pair with Yves Allegro against Escude and Michael Llodra.

"In doubles, I don't think there's a big enough gap between the French and the Swiss to say that one team or the other is the favorite," French captain Guy Forget said.

France owns nine Davis Cup titles, the most recent in 2001. Switzerland never has won the event.

Spain goes up 2-0
PALMA DE MALLORCA, Spain -- French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya won easily Friday to give Spain a 2-0 lead over the Netherlands in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.

Ferrero beat Raemon Sluiter 6-2, 6-2, 6-4, after Moya got past the man Ferrero defeated in the 2003 Roland Garros final, Martin Verkerk, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.

Spain can wrap up the best-of-five series and earn a semifinal berth against France or Switzerland by winning Saturday's doubles. Verkerk and John Van Lottum will face 17-year-old Rafael Nadal and Tommy Robredo.

The matches are being played on an outdoor, red clay court at a converted bull ring. The first match started an hour late because of rain. The weather was chilly, the balls heavy, the playing surface slippery.

Moya, the 1998 French Open champion, grew up on this Mediterranean island off the coast of Barcelona and played Friday in front of neighbors -- and King Juan Carlos.

Moya's first serve was an ace, he closed the first set with another, and he finished with 10.

"He played well, unbelievably well," Verkerk said. "He made the shots he needed to."

In the second set, Moya fought off a set point for Verkerk, and claimed 10 of the next 11 points to take it himself.

"If I had made that point, the match would have been totally different," Verkerk said. "I didn't."

In the third, the Dutchman -- who beat the Spaniard at last year's French Open -- broke serve to reach 4-4. But Moya broke right back, taking all four points in the ninth game. He served out the match, the last point coming on a drop shot that left Verkerk flat-footed at the baseline.

"If the weather is sunny and the court drier, I serve better," Verkerk said. "But that's not the reason I lost."

After Moya won, several thousand fans started chanting, "Car-los! Car-los!"

"I grew up in this neighborhood, 100 meters from here," he said. "I see a lot of familiar faces on every side."

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.

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