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U.S. stays alive against Spain in Davis Cup

Overcoming all obstacles

September 21, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Mardy Fish and Mike Bryan rallied to beat Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, Saturday and give the United States its first point of the semifinal matchup on a clay court in Madrid after being swept in Friday's singles play.

With Spain leading, 2-1, and looking to reach its sixth final, the pressure shifts to Andy Roddick and his match against Rafael Nadal in the first reverse singles match today.

Roddick is 10-4 when playing the fourth match in Davis Cup play. But he has never beaten a player ranked higher than him in three previous tries.

Today, Roddick will have to contend with not only the four-time French Open champion but a crowd that is welcoming Nadal back this weekend for the first time since he won Wimbledon and the Olympic gold medal.

"Rafa worries me a lot more than the crowd," said Patrick McEnroe, the U.S. captain. "I think Andy probably feels the same way. We're playing the best clay-court player in the world, but he's got a chance."

Roddick exchanged words with Emilio Sanchez Vicario, Spain's captain, toward the end of his five-set loss to David Ferrer on Friday after some jeering from the crowd.

"The public has been very well-behaved," Sanchez Vicario said. "Perhaps Roddick is used to winning the games when he reaches the fifth set, so I don't think that's a matter of the public.

"If tomorrow he's thinking of the public, I think that's a mistake. He needs to think about Rafa."

McEnroe said the emotional Roddick will be ready, even with a career 2-3 record against the Spaniard, including a loss to the then-18-year-old Nadal in the final at Seville four years ago.

"Sure he got a little frustrated in the fifth against Ferrer, but he's a competitor, that's normal. He has to stay calm," McEnroe said.

"I'm not worried. [Andy] knows what he has to do, he's been in this position many times before."

The U.S. has won the Davis Cup 32 times, but has rallied back from a 1-2 deficit only five times. A Roddick victory would make fifth-ranked Ferrer's match against Sam Querrey the decisive one.

The Americans also won the doubles over Spain in the 2004 final, but the Spanish went on to win their second title.

Russia kept Argentina from clinching a berth in the Davis Cup final when Igor Kunitsyn and Dmitry Tursunov rallied from 3-1 down in the fifth set to beat David Nalbandian and Guillermo Canas, 6-2, 6-1, 6-7 (9), 3-6, 8-6, in Buenos Aires. Argentina won the two singles matches Friday.

Dinara Safina overpowered Russian compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-1, 6-3, in Tokyo today to win the Pan Pacific Open for her fourth WTA title of the season.

Safina will move up to No. 3 in the world rankings.

Olympic bronze medalist Vera Zvonareva beat Zheng Jie, 6-3, 7-5, and fourth-seeded Peng Shuai beat Camille Pin, 6-2, 6-1, in the semifinals of the Guangzhou International in China.

TRACK AND FIELD

Harper wins 100-meter hurdles in Shanghai

Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper of the United States won the 100-meter hurdles in 12.56 seconds at the Golden Grand Prix in Shanghai.

Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica won the women's 100 in 11.01 and world-record holder Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia won the pole vault at 15 feet 1 after three failed tries at 15-7.

Christian Cantwell of the U.S. won the men's shotput and Olympic women's 400 champion Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain finished fourth behind winner Shericka Williams of Jamaica, who won in 50.88.

HORSE RACING

Commentator easily wins Massachusetts Handicap

Heavily favored Commentator won the 66th Massachusetts Handicap by 14 lengths, beating an overmatched field over 1 1/8 miles at Suffolk Downs in Boston.

Won Awesome Dude was second and Cuba came in third in the $500,000 race.

John Velazquez rode Commentator, a 7-year-old gelding trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, to the wire in front of 17,172.

My Pal Charlie burst through an opening and cruised down the stretch to upend 6-5 favorite Macho Again and win Super Derby 29 at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City.

My Pal Charlie ran 1 1/8 miles in a stakes-record 1:48.36, slightly more than two-tenths of a second off the track record.

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