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Croatia defeats U.S. in Davis Cup

Marin Cilic defeats James Blake in four sets in the deciding match.

July 13, 2009|Staff And Wire Reports

The United States was ousted from the Davis Cup and left to wonder how it might have gone had Andy Roddick been available to play.

James Blake was unable to keep the Americans alive in the quarterfinals Sunday at Porec, Croatia, losing to Marin Cilic of Croatia, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, in the opening match of reverse singles.

Cilic's victory on indoor clay put Croatia ahead, 3-1, in the best-of-five format, sending the country to its first semifinal since winning the Davis Cup in 2005. The final score was 3-2 after American doubles specialist Bob Bryan beat Roko Karanusic, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (4), in the concluding match.

Roddick was unavailable because of a hip injury after losing a five-set final to Roger Federer at Wimbledon. That left Blake as the Americans' No. 1 singles player.

"It shows how important Andy is for the team," Blake said. "Being on the No. 2 spot is less pressure than playing on the No. 1 spot."

U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe acknowledged that without Roddick the Americans faced a "better team."

"Cilic had a great match. I'm very impressed by his maturity," McEnroe said. "His serve was definitely better than Blake's today."

The Americans, the 32-time champions, have lost all three meetings against Croatia in the Davis Cup. The U.S. won the competition two years ago and was bidding to reach the semifinals for the fourth straight year.

"I played well, trying to attack, but I missed too many opportunities," Blake said.

Croatia will play the Czech Republic at home in September. The Czechs beat Argentina, 3-2, on Sunday.

In other quarterfinals, Spain advanced, 3-2, at home against Germany and will meet Israel in the semifinals. Israel clinched its series against Russia on Saturday and completed a 4-1 victory Sunday.

Rajeev Ram beat third-seeded Sam Querrey, 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-3, in the Hall of Fame championships at Newport, R.I., for his first ATP Tour title.

Ram gained entry to the tournament after top-seeded Mardy Fish withdrew Monday to replace Roddick on the Davis Cup team.

The 21-year-old Querrey played in his third final and was seeking his second title.

Ram, ranked 181st at the start of the week, is the lowest-ranked player to win an event this year.

"These days don't come around very often unless you're [Roger] Federer or [Rafael] Nadal. There's definitely pressure," Ram said. "I tried to play tennis instead of thinking about what the moment was."

Querrey, who had 80 aces during the week, still found a reason to smile when it was over.

"I'm going to the Home Run Derby and All-Star game," he said. "I'm not too bummed."

--

ETC.

Mexico defeats Guadeloupe, 2-0

Gerardo Torrado and Miguel Sabah each scored, and Mexico beat Guadeloupe, 2-0, to win Group C in the CONCACAF Gold Cup at Glendale, Ariz. Earlier, Blas Perez scored his third goal of the Gold Cup and Luis Tejada added a pair in the second half to send Panama through to the quarterfinals with a 4-0 win over Nicaragua.

The U.S. broke an 18-year gold-medal drought by beating Greece, 88-80, at Auckland, New Zealand, to win the FIBA under-19 world basketball championships.

Kansas' Tyshawn Taylor had 18 points and five steals to lead the U.S. to its first victory at the world junior tournament since it won the gold medal in Canada in 1991.

Keith Wilkinson, who started 12 games for the USC basketball team last season, has signed a one-year contract with Cryvbasket of the Ukraine Basketball League.

Wilkinson, a 6-foot-11 forward, averaged 2.8 points in 30 games last season. He becomes the second player from USC's team to sign overseas, joining guard Daniel Hackett, who signed a one-year deal with Benetton Treviso of the Italian league.

-- Chris Foster

The Lakers' 2008-09 NBA champions DVD will be released for sale Tuesday after a VIP screening tonight at the Nokia Theatre at LA Live. Among the players expected to attend are Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar.

-- Diane Pucin

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