Russia take 2-0 lead

Moscow, September 22:

Marat Safin beat Andy Roddick and Mikhail Youzhny downed James Blake to give Russia a 2-0 lead over the US in their Davis Cup semi-final. Safin defeated Roddick 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the opening match, with Youzhny beating Blake 7-5, 1-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the second. Russia can clinch the best-of-five series on Saturday with a victory in the doubles.

Roddick opened strongly, allowing Safin only one point on the American’s first three service games. But in the seventh game, Safin earned two break points with a backhand passing shot, and converted on the first. The Russian saved a break point in the next game before holding to close out the set.

Roddick saved three break points in the third game of the second set and one more in the fifth before Safin broke serve. They exchanged breaks late in the third set to force a tiebreaker. Down 2-5, Safin won five straight points to end the match.

Blake broke Youzhny in the second game, but the Russian capitalised on the American’s two double faults in the seventh game and got another break to take the first set. Blake levelled the match with a strong serve-and-volley game. The fourth set opened with an exchange of breaks, then stayed on serve until Youzhny broke Blake in the 11th game.