Mighty Russians close to ending Swedish jinx

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The Independent Online

Russia moved to the brink of a place in the Davis Cup semi–finals after Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov claimed first–day wins in their match against Sweden.

At the Luzhniki Sports Palace in Moscow, Safin scored a fine 6–4 6–4 6–4 victory over Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson.

Kafelnikov, who yesterday called for the Russians to end their four–match losing streak against the Swedes, followed up with a 7–6 (8/6) 6–3 6–1 win against Thomas Enqvist.

Russia are now just one rubber away from claiming their first ever Davis Cup victory over Sweden and will progress should they take victory in tomorrow's doubles.

The Swedes beat Russia last year at this stage and Kafelnikov and Safin play for revenge against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson in the doubles.

Despite winning in straight sets, Safin's tie proved to be closer than the scoreline suggests – the Russian committing 29 unforced errors to Johannson's 27.

The key proved to be the break–point chances, with Safin taking four of the nine that came his way compared to a record of one from one created by Johansson.

After winning a tight first set on a tie–break, Kafelnikov needed just another 51 minutes to see off Enqvist.

Like Safin, Kafelnikov also made the most of his break points, clinically winning four out of five chances.