Tennis: Courier rescues US in Davis Cup after Agassi's collapse

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The Independent Online
JIM COURIER rallied from the brink of defeat in the Davis Cup yesterday to beat 18-year-old Marat Safin 0-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, giving the United States a dramatic 3-2 victory over Russia in the first round.

Andre Agassi was beaten in straight sets by Yevgeny Kafelnikov to level the best-of-five series earlier in the day. Then the Americans seemed headed for their first Davis Cup home defeat since 1987 when Courier lost the first eight games against the Russian teenager, ranked No 170 in the world.

Agassi, who had not lost a Davis Cup singles match since 1990, was routed by Kafelnikov 6-3, 6-0, 7-6. After losing the tie-break, Agassi slammed his racket to the court, grabbed his bag and left for the locker room. His match lasted 90 minutes.

"I haven't played a match that poorly in a long time" said Agassi, who had only three break points - all in the first set - and failed to convert any of them. "I just didn't find the range on my shots."

But the match turned more than Agassi's shortcomings. "I was able to place my shots wherever I wanted," Kafelnikov said. "I felt like everything was working for me."

Greg Rusedski is convinced Britain will reach the World Group of the top 16 Davis Cup nations next year regardless of who they meet when the qualifying round is played in September.

Rusedski, the British No 1, and Tim Henman, the No 2, combined to beat Ukraine 5-0 in Newcastle at the weekend. Now 16 nations go into Thursday's qualifying round draw at Queen's Club in London and Britain, with Rusedski and Henman ranked five and 15 in the world respectively, will be one of the eight seeded nations.