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Youzhny beats Somdev to take Russia into quarter-finals (Lead)

Moscow, March 7 (IANS) Mikhail Youzhny powered Russia into the Davis Cup World Group quarterfinals with a straight sets victory over Somdev Devvarman in the first reverse singles before India narrowed the margin of defeat to 2-3 as Rohan Bopanna won the dead fifth rubber at the Luzhniki arena here Sunday.

Youznhy gave his team the winning point when he swept a hapless Somdev off his feet, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 and in the dead fifth rubber, reduced to best-of-three sets, Bopanna beat Teimuraz Gabashvili 7-6(5), 6-4 to narrow down the margin of defeat.

India’s famed doubles combination Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi kept the visitors in with an outside chance by winning the doubles against Gabashvili and Igor Kunitsyn in straight sets Saturday.

Russia, a two-time Davis Cup champion, has now reached the quarterfinals for the 11th time in 12 years and has extended its run of victories on home soil to 17. It will have the chance to host another tie should Argentina progress to the quarterfinals, or otherwise travel to Sweden for the July 9-11 tie.

The 128th-ranked Somdev, who came close to winning his opening singles against Kunitsyn, could barely win six games against Youzhny in an hour and 55 minutes clash.

Down 1-2, there was a faint hope that Somdev could turn the form book upside down by beating the Russian and take the tie into a decisive fifth rubber. But that was not to be as the Indian just went through the motions instead of raising his game to a higher level, which he did on the ATP Tour on quite a few occasions.

Somdev’s four-set loss to Kunitsyn Friday appeared to have sapped his energy and this day he looked a spent force against a domineering Youzhny, who simply breezed through the match.

The six-feet Youzhny toyed with Somdev, who somewhat struggled with his serve, winning only 56 percent of his points on first serve, and was also sluggish on court.

The Russian outpaced the Indian with his fluent ground strokes, his trademark backhand at its best. He exploited Somdev’s unwillingness to charge the net with clever dropshots.

Youzhny’s clinical display made it amply clear that not for nothing he is in the world’s top 15. He did not drop his serve and the only time he came close to losing it was in the third set when he had to save two break points.

Youzhny sprinted to a first set lead, with breaks in the third and fifth game, and then played a flawless second set, allowing Somdev to hold his serve only once.

There was little that Somdev could do except admiring his opponent’s brilliance. He smashed his racquet in frustration, but that didn’t help his cause either. He did put up a semblance of a fight in the third set, but that too little and too late as the Russian jumped to a 4-1 lead and soon the set and match were his.

–Indo-Asian News Service

pt/vs

( 503 Words)

2010-03-07-20:49:04