Arthurs, Hanley clinch quarterfinal win for Aussies

Updated: April 8, 2006, 7:52 AM ET
Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Australia remained in contention for its 29th Davis Cup by finishing off Belarus 3-0 Saturday with a doubles victory by veterans Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley.

Arthurs and Hanley outlasted Max Mirnyi and Vladimir Voltchkov 3-6, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 to give Australia an unbeatable lead heading into Sunday's reverse singles.

Chris Guccione and Lleyton Hewitt had given Australia a 2-0 lead Friday in the opening singles at Kooyong, the former home of the Australian Open.

Advancing to the semifinals for the fifth time in eight years, Australia will play either defending champion Croatia at home or Argentina in South America from Sept. 22-24. Croatia and Argentina were tied 1-1 heading into the doubles match.

Australia, which has also finished runner-up 19 times in Davis Cup, saved 14 of 16 break points in Saturday's doubles.

"Stressful stuff isn't it?" Arthurs said of Australia's up-and-down form in the match. "I got off to a horrendous start; I was very tense in the first few sets."

At 5-5 in the deciding set, Arthurs and Hanley broke Voltchkov's serve, taking the game when Arthurs' forehand went between the two Belarus players on the baseline. It came just three games after Australia fought off two breaks points on Hanley's serve.

With Hanley serving for the match, the Australians needed three match points, finally winning when Mirnyi's return of serve went long.

On Friday, Guccione beat Mirnyi in nearly four hours, winning 7-6 (4), 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4. Hewitt, playing for the first time at Kooyong, easily beat Voltchkov 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.

"We've played big matches before, and I think that brought us through today," said Hanley.

Australia captain John Fitzgerald said his players kept their cool in the blustery conditions despite being down a set early and 2-1 after three sets.

"They were very levelheaded today," said Fitzgerald. "Belarus, they are good hitters of the ball. You have to withstand that power a little bit and have confidence."

The match, played before approximately 6,000 spectators in the 8,000-seat arena, was the first Davis Cup match at Kooyong since 1993.

Hewitt is scheduled to play Mirnyi and Guccione will play Voltchkov in Sunday's meaningless singles, although Hewitt is likely to be replaced.

"We'll talk together as a team tonight and work it out," said Fitzgerald. "He [Hewitt] doesn't generally like to play the dead rubbers."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press