Nadal powers Spain into Davis Cup semis

Madrid: Rafael Nadal won back-to-back matches to propel Spain to a 2-1 victory over Argentina and a place in the semifinals of the new-look Davis Cup on Friday. World number one Nadal thrashed Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-2 to pull Spain level after Guido Pella put the Argentines ahead with a 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 win over Pablo Carreno. Nadal then teamed with Marcel Granollers to beat Maximo Gonzalez and Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in a must-win doubles match to see Spain into a final-four clash with Great Britain.
“I had a good singles match, but the doubles came down to a few balls because the game was very close,” Nadal said. “It’s a great victory, but we don’t have time to enjoy it — we have to rest because tomorrow it will be difficult again.” Britain meanwhile eased into the semis with an efficient 2-0 effort over Germany. Andy Murray was rested on Friday but will likely feature in the semifinals. In his absence Kyle Edmund beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-5 in the first rubber with Daniel Evans taking three sets to see off Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 7-6 (7/2).
Earlier Russia beat Novak Djokovic’s Serbia to reach the semifinals following a cliff-hanger match that went all the way to a deciding tie-breaker.
With the quarterfinal level at 1-1 following the singles, the Russian pairing of Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev faced Djokovic and Viktor Troicki in the deciding rubber.
After a see-saw match of high drama the Russians came out 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10/8) winners and face Canada, quarterfinal victors over Australia, in Saturday’s semifinals.
“It was heads or tails and the coin fell on our side,” Rublev said.
“God gave me a chance to be a hero,” he added.
Kachanov was already looking forward to the next match.
“We’ll have to get it together for Canada,” he said of the semifinal.
“Luck was on our side here, but this was one of the biggest games of either our careers.”
Earlier in the day Rublev won the first singles over Filip Krajinovic 6-1, 6-2 to give Russia a lead, cancelled out later by Djokovic, who overcame Khachanov 6-3, 6-3.
The world number two Djokovic, winner of 16 Grand Slams said the match had been “a real roller-coaster of a game, very, very emotional and very tense”.
“Sport is not all about winning and losing but this hurts me personally,” said the 32-year-old.
“Anyway the season is over now, we’ll get over it. Tomorrow is another day.”
Djoko pain
In the absence of Daniil Medvedev, the Russian star who pulled out of the event citing exhaustion, captain Shamil Tarpischev placed his faith in Rublev and Khachanov for both singles and doubles. — AFP