Tennis: Record epic as Czechs keep bouncing back

Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol took more than seven hours to beat their Swiss opponents. Photo / AP
Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol took more than seven hours to beat their Swiss opponents. Photo / AP

The Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol yesterday beat Stanislas Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland in the longest-ever Davis Cup rubber, a clash which took seven hours and two minutes.

The 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 24-22 Geneva epic surpassed the previous record when John McEnroe needed six hours 22 minutes to beat Mats Wilander 9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6 in the tie between the United States and Sweden in 1982.

Chiudinelli double-faulted on match point in a fifth set which lasted three hours 35 minutes, after he and his partner had earlier saved 12 match points.

The win gave the defending champion Czechs a 2-1 lead in the World Group clash ahead of the reverse singles, with the winners to play either Kazakhstan or Austria in the quarter-finals in April.

The previous longest Davis Cup doubles match was six hours 20 minutes, in 2002, when Lucas Arnold and David Nalbandian of Argentina beat Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 19-17.

Wawrinka, the world No 17, will face Berdych, the sixth-ranked player, in the first of the reverse singles.

In stark contrast, Serbia and France cruised into the quarter-finals as five-time champions Spain faced a humiliating first round exit.

Serbia, the 2010 winners, reached the last eight for the fourth successive season when Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic, playing his 18th Davis Cup season, defeated Steve Darcis and Ruben Bemelmans 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 to secure a 3-0 win over Belgium.

Serbia are likely to face the United States for a semifinal place after the 32-time champions opened a 2-0 lead over Brazil in Florida.

In Rouen, Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau teamed up to move France into the quarter-finals as they powered past Israeli pairing Dudi Sela and Jonathan Erlich.

The French duo won 7-6 (7-3), 6-1, 6-0 in the doubles to cement an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the tie.

France will now head to Argentina, who beat Germany 3-0, in April for their quarter-final.

David Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos clinched the crucial point for an unassailable 3-0 lead by beating Christopher Kas and Tobias Kamke 6-1 6-4 5-7 6-2 in Buenos Aries.

In Vancouver, Spain were down 2-0 against Canada, who have never won a World Group clash.

Missing top players Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro and Fernando Verdasco, the champions in three of the past five years, and runners-up in 2012, were blown off the court.

Canadian Frank Dancevic, ranked 166th in the world, stormed to a 6-1 6-2 6-2 victory over Marcel Granollers, ranked 34th, to put the hosts up 2-0. World number 15 Milos Raonic had opened the tie with a 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 6-4 win over Albert Ramos.

Spain, who haven't lost in the first round since 2006, now need a doubles win to stay alive in the tie.

Italy led Croatia 2-1 in Turin after Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli beat Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig 3-6 6-1 6-3 7-6 (13-11) to edge closer to a last-eight tie against Canada or Spain.


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