Davis Cup: Aus clinches quarterfinal over Belarus
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Davis Cup: Aus clinches quarterfinal over Belarus

Arthurs and Hanley outlasted Max Mirnyi and Vladimir Voltchkov 3-6, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 to give Australia an unbeatable lead.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 12:18 IST

Australia remains in contention for its 29th Davis Cup tennis championship after finishing off Belarus 3-0 on Saturday with a doubles victory by veterans Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley.

Arthurs and Hanley outlasted Max Mirnyi and Vladimir Voltchkov 3-6, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 to give Australia an unbeatable lead ahead of Sunday's reverse singles.

Chris Guccione and Lleyton Hewitt had given Australia a 2-0 lead Friday in the opening singles at Kooyong, the former home of the Australian Open.

Advancing to the semifinals for the fifth time in eight years, Australia will play either defending champion Croatia at home or Argentina in South America from Sept. 22-24 in the penultimate round this year. Croatia and Argentina are 1-1 in their quarterfinal heading ahead of the doubles match.

Australia, which has also finished runner-up 19 times in Davis Cup, saved 14 of 16 break points in Saturday's doubles. "Stressful stuff isn't it?" Arthurs said of Australia's up-and-down form in the match. "I got off to a horrendous start _ I was very tense in the first few sets."

At 5-5 in the deciding set, Arthurs and Hanley broke Voltchkov's serve, taking the game when Arthurs' forehand went between the two Belarus players on the baseline. It came just three games after Australia had to fight off two breaks points on Hanley's serve. With Hanley serving for the match, the Australians needed three match points, finally winning when Mirnyi's return of serve went long on the Rebound Ace surface at Kooyong.

On Friday, Guccione beat Mirnyi in nearly four hours, winning the marathon five-setter 7-6 (4), 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4. Hewitt, playing for the first time at Kooyong, easily beat Voltchkov 6-2, 6-1, 6-2. "We've played big matches before, and I think that brought us through today," said Hanley.

Australia captain John Fitzgerald said his players kept their cool in the blustery conditions despite being down a set early and 2-1 after three sets.

"They were very levelheaded today," said Fitzgerald. "Belarus, they are good hitters of the ball. You have to withstand that power a little bit and have confidence."

The match, played before approximately 6,000 spectators in the 8,000-seat arena, was the first Davis Cup match at Kooyong since 1993.

Hewitt is scheduled to play Mirnyi and Guccione will play Voltchkov in Sunday's meaningless singles, although Hewitt is likely to be replaced.

"We'll talk together as a team tonight and work it out," said Fitzgerald. "He (Hewitt) doesn't generally like to play the dead rubbers."

First Published: Apr 08, 2006 12:18 IST