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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 10, 2006

'Closer' Roddick lifts U.S. to Davis semifinal

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Roddick

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The United States, Argentina and Russia joined Australia yesterday in reaching the Davis Cup semifinals while defending champion Croatia was eliminated.

Andy Roddick sent the Americans into the next round by beating Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2, in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The Americans won, 3-2. In the semifinals in September, the United States will play at Russia.

"I guess I'm the one in the right place at the right time," Roddick said. "I always play first on the last day. I like playing on the third day, and my team has always put me in position to come through."

After he wrapped up the 2-hour, 21-minute match in the desert heat, Roddick did a rather ungainly slide on the grass court, then leaped into the air and waved an American flag before taking a victory lap with teammates James Blake and Bob and Mike Bryan around the stadium at Mission Hills Country Club.

"You're excited, you're relieved, you're pumped. Your teammates come over, you're happy, there are a lot of good emotions running through you," said Roddick, whose teammates call him "our closer."

Paul Capdeville downed Blake, 6-3, 6-4, in the final match after the Americans had already clinched.

The Americans have won the Davis Cup 31 times but not since 1995. Argentina will host Australia, which won its 28th and last championship in 2003.

Argentina held on to oust Croatia, 3-2, at Zagreb, Croatia, with Juan Ignacio Chela rallying to beat Sasa Tuksar, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), in the final match. Russia beat host France, 4-1, after Dmitry Tursunov downed Richard Gasquet, 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-5, in the deciding match.

Australia advanced a day earlier and yesterday completed a 5-0 sweep of visiting Belarus.

Tuksar took a one-set lead but couldn't stop Chela. Tuksar, who squandered a 3-1 lead and a set point in the third set, has only won one ATP match in his career and that was after his opponent retired with an injury.

"I felt that the third set decided the match," Tuksar said. "I also felt I deserved to play a fifth set, but unfortunately it did not happen."

BAUSCH & LOMB

PETROVA TOO MUCH FOR SCHIAVONE IN FINAL

Nadia Petrova stared at the crystal trophy and asked, "Where's my champagne and big straw?"

The 23-year-old Russian used a strong serve and patient play to beat Francesca Schiavone for the first time in five meetings and win the Bausch & Lomb Championships, 6-4, 6-4, yesterday at Amelia Island, Fla.

"Every year, I've been doing better and better, playing more consistent and winning more matches," Petrova said. "Hopefully, I'll get more and more titles this year."

Petrova finished with four aces, including three in the first six games to set the tempo, and a slew of other high-powered serves that put Schiavone on her heels.

Petrova advanced to the semifinals at Amelia Island in 2004 and 2005, but lost both times to eventual champion Lindsay Davenport.