Apr 072013

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN: Lukas Rosol of Czech Republic put the defending champions into the Davis Cup semi-finals with a tough win over Kazakhstan’s Evgeny Korolev at Astana.

Rosol, who is 63rd in the ATP rankings, won 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 his first ever head-to-head meeting with the 25-year-old Korolev in three hours and 34 minutes to give his team an unassailable 3-1 lead in the tie.

Both players started cautiously, trying to avoid unnecessary risks, before Rosol snatched the opening set tie-break.

In the second set Korolev, who is 187th in the world, broke in the sixth game but Rosol broke back in the ninth to set up another tiebreak, which Korolev won to level at one set all.

The third set was almost a carbon copy of the second as Korolev grabbed the lead in the fifth game, while Rosol levelled in the 10th. But this time the 27-year-old Czech was more precise in the tiebreak to clinch a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth, Rosol underlined his clay supremacy, breaking his rival’s serve twice to win the set, the match and a place in the semi-finals for his team.

Meanwhile, the defending champions will become only the sixth nation to hold the number one position on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Davis Cup Nations Ranking after the win.

The new rankings will be issued today with Czech Republic climbing one place, while Spain, which has held the top spot for almost four years, will drop to number two.

Tomic clinches tie for Australia

In Tashkent, Bernard Tomic downed Denis Istomin as Australia defeated Uzbekistan in the Davis Cup to advance to September’s World Group playoffs.

Tomic sealed victory for Australia in their Asia-Oceania Group One second-round tie on clay in Namangan with an emphatic four-set victory over Istomin to give his team an unassailable 3-1 lead.

The 20-year-old won 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth rubber after Australia went into the final day leading 2-1.

It was a personal triumph for the top-ranked Australian, who initially planned to skip the tie before patching up his strained relationship with Australian captain Pat Rafter.

The 28-time Davis Cup champions are bidding to return to the competition’s top tier for the first time since 2007.

“Bernie played some of the best tennis I’ve seen him play,” said Rafter. “To play two great matches in a row now, that was really important for him.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2013.

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