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Russia win see-saw doubles to stay afloat

September 21, 2008 08:01 IST

Russia stayed alive in their Davis Cup semi-final against Argentina on Saturday when Igor Kunitsyn and Dmitry Tursunov won the doubles despite a brave fightback by David Nalbandian and Guillermo Canas.

Kunitsyn and Tursunov won 6-2, 6-1, 6-7, 3-6, 8-6 after their opponents had saved three successive match points in the third set and gone one break ahead in the fifth.

Argentina still lead the tie 2-1 with Sunday's two reverse singles still to play. Spain lead the United States 2-1 in the other semi-final being played in Madrid.

"Perhaps we had some divine intervention because it's very unusual to lose three match points and still go on to win," said Russia coach Shamil Tarpishev.

Nalbandian rued Argentina's failure to hold serve when they were leading 3-1 in the final set.

"We saved it in the third set, then we had the chance to win it, we couldn't hold serve with the score at 3-1 (in the last set) which changed the story as far as I'm concerned."

Team captain Alberto Mancini added: "In the final set, the match was practically won and normally we would have finished it off. But these things happen."


Russia needed only 52 minutes to wrap up the first two sets.

After the first four games went with serve, Russia won 10 of the next 11 as they capitalised on the nerves of Canas who suffered three successive service breaks and produced a flurry of unforced errors.

Argentina, who found few answers to Tursunov's serve, came back into the game when they broke Kunitsyn in the second game of the third set.

But more poor serving from Canas in the seventh allowed Russia to break back and send the set to a tiebreak.

Russia were on the point of winning as they led 6-3, only for Canas to find a new lease of life and save all three match points.

With Russia serving, he produced two bold shots from the baseline to save the first two, then salvaged the next with a serve which Tursunov could only return into the net.

Russia also saved three set points before Nalbandian wrapped up the tiebreak with a volley at the net.

Argentina carried the momentum through to the fourth set which they won when Kunitsyn overhit a forehand.

When Tursunov was broken in the second game of the final set, Argentina seemed poised for victory. Instead, they relaxed and Canas and Nalbandian lost their next service games.

But the match changed direction again when Tursunov was broken in the eighth game, leaving the set tied at 4-4.

Nalbandian brought the partisan Parque Roca crowd to its feet with two exquisite drop shots and an ace to hold his serve in the 11th game but the resolute Russians refuse to lose heart.

Canas was broken in the 13th game and Tursunov held serve to clinch the rubber.

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