Boris Becker and Michael Stich got Germany off to a commanding 2-0 lead in the Davis Cup semi-final against Russia in Moscow yesterday, beating Andrei Chesnokov and Yevgeny Kafelnikov respectively on a soggy indoor clay court.
Chesnokov, a clay-court specialist and a veteran of the Davis Cup for 12 years, excited an Olympic Stadium capacity crowd of 10,000 by taking the first set before Becker prevailed 6-7, 6-3, 7-6, 7-5, and then cheered Stich to a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Kafelnikov.
Becker also had to endure the Russians' over-watering of the court, which delayed the start of the match and left the surface slower than usual and to Chesnokov's liking.
Becker overcame sloppy play and repeated errors before beating Chesnokov in a match that lasted three hours, 38 minutes. "I was kind of shocked to see a surface that had very little to do with the one we trained on this week," Becker said.
In the other semi-final in Las Vegas, Pete Sampras, the world No 2, dispatched Thomas Enqvist to give the United States a 1-0 lead over Sweden. Apart from a rough patch in the third set, Sampras was in control from the service line, spoiling Enqvist's debut in the Davis Cup 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.Reuse content