Tennis: Kucera rocks champions Sweden

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The Independent Online
KAROL KUCERA led Slovakia to a surprising 2-0 lead over defending Davis Cup champions Sweden with a four-set victory over Thomas Johansson yesterday and his lesser-known compatriot Dominik Hrbaty followed suit, defeating Thomas Enquist in five sets.

Kucera, ranked No 10 in the world, outplayed Johansson 6-1, 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 at Trollhattan. Enqvist, who was expected to get the home team back into the match, could not break down the spirited Hrbaty.

In Frankfurt, Yevgeny Kafelnikov cruised to a straight-sets victory over Nicolas Kiefer to pull Russia into a 1-1 tie with Germany. The home team had taken the lead in the best-of-five series when Tommy Haas outlasted Marat Safin in five sets.

But Kafelnikov, who is No 3 in the world, dominated Kiefer, winning in straight sets.

Haas overcame 32 aces fired by Safin. "It's the longest I've ever played and perhaps the best," Haas said. "It could have gone either way."

In Harare, Zimbabwe's Byron Black struck back from two sets to one down to overcome Australia's Mark Philippousis 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 but his brother, Wayne, was no match for US Open champion Pat Rafter, who levelled the tie in four sets.

In Nimes, Richard Krajicek stormed back from two sets behind to beat Jerome Golmard of France. The Dutchman, currently ranked No 4 in the world and winner of last weekend's Lipton Championship, won 3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6- 4, 6-2 and served 27 aces. Cedric Pioline levelled things for the home side when he defeated Paul Haarhuis 6-2, 7-6, 6-3.

In Lleida, outside Barcelona, Spain's Carlos Moya defeated Brazil's Fernando Meligeni 6-2, 6-7, 6-0, 6-4, but Gustavo Kuerten made it 1-1 by beating Spanish No 2 Alex Corretja comprehensively in straight sets.

Results, Digest, page 25

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