Israel on verge of Davis Cup upset

Updated: July 11, 2009, 10:43 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Israel took a surprising 2-0 lead Friday over Russia in the Davis Cup quarterfinals in Tel Aviv, Israel, after Dudi Sela rallied to beat Mikhail Youzhny in the second singles match.

Sela won 3-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 after Harel Levy beat Igor Andreev 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, putting Israel one win away from its first semifinal appearance.

"I felt a lot of pressure when I took the court after Harel's win, because I knew I could put the team at 2-0," said Sela, who moved up 13 places to No. 33 in the world rankings after reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon last week. "I am happy that I stood up to this."

Israel can wrap up the best-of-five series in Saturday's doubles match when Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich take on Marat Safin and Igor Kunitsyn.

Russia has won the Davis Cup twice -- in 2002 and 2007 -- and made it to the semifinals in each of the past five years.

Youzhny said he was "very disappointed."

"I began very well, but after I took the first set, my luck fell away," he said. "I hope that this tie is still not lost."

Israel has reached the quarterfinals once before, losing to India in New Delhi in 1987.

Czech Republic 1, Argentina 1

In Ostravia, Czech Republic, Juan Martin del Potro outclassed Ivo Minar 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 and Argentina drew even with the Czech Republic after the opening singles in their quarterfinal.

In the first match, Tomas Berdych overcame Juan Monaco 6-4, 2-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 on the indoor hard court at CEZ Arena.

Del Potro, the world No. 5, took charge early by breaking Minar's first service game and committed just two unforced errors in the set.

Minar improved in the second, but the Argentine added two more breaks.

In the last set, del Potro served out the match with a powerful forehand winner on his third match point.

"My serve was very good," said del Potro, who improved to 5-2 in Davis Cup singles. "That was the key."

He served 12 aces.

It was only the second Davis Cup match for 64th-ranked Minar, who made his debut two years ago.

Minar replaced Radek Stepanek, who injured his ankle in the fourth round of Wimbledon but was expected to play the doubles.

"I had nothing to lose," Minar said. "But I made too many mistakes at early stages."

Berdych, ranked 20th, struggled with his serve but prevailed in 3 hours, 27 minutes.

"I had problems with my first serve, that was the biggest problem," Berdych said.

Lukas Dlouhy, who won the men's doubles at the French Open with Leander Paes last month, was set to team up with Stepanek in Saturday's doubles to face del Potro and Leonardo Mayer.

The reverse singles on Sunday tentatively pit Berdych against del Potro and Minar against Monaco.

Spain 1, Germany 1

In Marbella, Spain, Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and Germany tied defending champion Spain in their best-of-five Davis Cup quarterfinal.

Kohlschreiber converted three of his five break chances to beat Robredo, who failed to convert either of his two chances.

Spain had led after Fernando Verdasco beat Andreas Beck 6-0, 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1 in the first singles match.

Verdasco will return to the outdoor clay to team up with Feliciano Lopez for Saturday's doubles match against Nicolas Kiefer and Mischa Zverev before Sunday's reverse singles.

With Rafael Nadal missing because of a knee injury, Verdasco has been called on to play three matches. Robredo is filling in for David Ferrer, who has a muscle strain.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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