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Vicini, 50, becomes first to play 100 Davis Cup ties

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San Marino: San Marino's Domenico Vicini is unsure when he will finally call it a day after becoming the first player in the world to compete in 100 Davis Cup ties on Friday at the age of 50.


The occasion for Vicini, who will turn 51 in September, was slightly soured as he and his doubles partner Simone De Luigi -- 33 years younger -- went down to Rafn Bonifacius and Daniel Siddall 6-2 6-3 in the Group IV rubber against Iceland.


It did not have an impact on the result of the tie, however, as San Marino, Europe's smallest independent state after Vatican City and Monaco, had already won both their singles rubbers in the Europe Zone tie in Baku.


Vicini made his Davis Cup debut in 1993 against Slovenia, which was also the first tie in the men's team event for San Marino.


"It's a great achievement for me and it's a pleasure to play again this year for the Davis Cup team," Vicini said from Baku with team-mate Marco De Rossi doubling up as the translator.


"Honestly I don't know when I will stop. I will continue to play when I can. The motivation is the passion for the sport, to compete for my country San Marino."


Vicini said he was not aware of his approaching Davis Cup milestone at the start of this week. He chose his 6-7(4) 7-6(6) 13-11 win in 1996 over Senegal's top singles player Abou Berthe in a Group III rubber in front of a packed crowd as the most memorable moment in his almost 30-year career.


This week he also became the oldest player to win any Davis Cup match when he and doubles partner De Rossi defeated Martin Muedini and Mario Zili of Albania on Wednesday. Three years back, Vicini had become the oldest to win a Davis Cup singles match at the age of 47 years and 318 days.


As San Marino's playing captain, Vicini these days prefers to leave the singles matches to other players, but always puts his hand up for the doubles.


"For us it's a great thing to have a tennis player like him in the team. He's still playing at 51," said De Rossi, the team's number one singles player who captained San Marino last year in Vicini's absence.


"It's a great thing to have someone who has been playing since a long time ago. He can teach us a lot, share his experience. He's the lion of the team. The lion is still alive."


San Marino, which is landlocked inside northern Italy with a population of about 33,000, will have a chance to return to Group III on Saturday when they take on hosts Azerbaijan in the promotion playoff.


A victory and promotion would be an ideal finish to Vicini's record-breaking week. -- Reuters


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