Australia advance in Davis Cup

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The Independent Online

Defending champion Australia advanced to the semi-finals of Davis Cup play today while Russia avoided elimination and Brazil took a 2-1 lead over Slovakia.

The Americans and Czech faced off later on Saturday with their World Group quarter-final tie even at a match apiece.

In American Zone play, Argentina withdrew from its match with Chile and forfeited their Group One, second-round tie after fans forced cancellation of an opening singles halted on Friday. Chile was awarded a 5-0 victory which Argentina will appeal to the International Tennis Federation in London next week.

The Australian doubles team of Pat Rafter and Mark Woodforde went five sets before defeating Germany's David Prinosil and Marc-Kevin Goellner 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 6-7 (4), 10-8.

The last two sets went 29 games without a service break until Prinosil, who lost a marathon singles five-setter against Wayne Arthurs on Friday, dropped serve to give Australia its victory.

Russia kept its Davis Cup hopes alive as Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin beat Spain's Alex Corretja and Juan Balcells 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 7-6, (7-3), 6-4.

Trailing 2-0 after Friday's singles, the Russians substituted Kafelnikov for Andrei Cherkasov on its doubles team and the world's No 3 player dominated play at the Terrado Calderon club in the southern city of Malaga.

In Sunday's reverse singles matches Corretja is scheduled to play Kafelnikov and Juan Carlos Ferrero plays against Safin.

Veteran Jaime Oncins helped an exhausted Gustavo Kuerten to a four-set doubles win as Brazil took a 2-1 lead over Slovakia in their best-of-five series.

Oncins made most of the big shots in a 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Dominik Hrbaty and Karol Kucera before a raucous crowd of 10,000 fans at Marapendi Racket Club.

Kuerten was coming back from a five-set, four-hour victory over Kucera on Friday. "I saw Guga was tired and I knew I had to take over the responsibility," Oncins said. "I told him: 'You rest. Let me do it."'

"Jaime made the difference," Kuerten said. "It was his game. I just followed the pace he set."

On Sunday, Kuerten faces Hrbaty, who on Friday overwhelmed Fernando Meligeni in straight sets. In the second match, Meligeni plays Kucera.