Safin wins Davis Cup for Russia

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Admitting he was downright scared, Marat Safin composed himself and won the Davis Cup title for Russia.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:38 IST
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Admitting he was downright scared, Marat Safin composed himself and won the Davis Cup title for Russia. The two-time Grand Slam champion had 16 aces in beating Jose Acasuso 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) on Sunday in the fifth and deciding match, giving Russia a 3-2 decision over Argentina for its second Davis Cup crown. "There were some very difficult moments today,'' Safin said. "It was tough to control the match. Everything worked out." Safin lost his opening singles match Friday, blaming the indoor carpet at Olympic Stadium. But neither the surface nor lingering knee injuries stopped him this time. "This is probably the most important win in the last two years," Safin said. David Nalbandian, who beat Safin on Friday, won the opening reverse singles match Sunday to make it 2-2. The eighth-ranked Argentine downed Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to put Safin on the spot. "I was under pressure and I was pretty scared," Safin said. "I didn't want to let this cup go away." First win This was the first time Russia won the Davis Cup at home. Sweden topped the host Russians in the 1994 final, and the United States beat them a year later. Russia won its only previous title four years ago in France. Argentina lost in its only previous final, to the United States in 1981. Davydenko, ranked No 3, missed his chance to win the best-of-five series earlier in the day. He quickly dropped the first two sets to Nalbandian, won the third and threatened in the fourth. "I wasn't nervous in the locker room, but when I got out onto the court it was a totally different story - I froze up," Davydenko said. "When you tighten up, your muscles lose feeling and you wonder how to play tennis." Safin had drawn Juan Ignacio Chela in the final match, but Argentina captain Alberto Mancini replaced him with Acasuso, who had not yet played in the final and was unbeaten in his four previous Davis Cup matches this year. Second game The Russian easily won the first set, breaking in the second game before coasting on his serve. In the second set, Acasuso saved two break points in the fifth game and then broke Safin in the next to go up 4-2 before holding to even the match. Acasuso made things interesting in the third game. He broke Safin with a sharp backhand to pull within 4-3, but netted three forehands in the next game. Safin held on to take the set. Both played defensively in the fourth set and traded service wins to force a tiebreaker. Trailing 6-4, Acasuso saved one match point on Safin's serve, but then netted a forehand from the baseline after a short rally. "I was sure Acasuso would play, and I was sure Marat would beat him. Marat is a fighter - he has experience and knows well what to do and when to do it to reach his goal," Russia captain Shamil Tarpishchev said. "That's what Acasuso lacks." Mancini stood by his choice. "Jose was really fresh and I thought his game was better to face Safin," Mancini said. Davydenko, who got married last weekend, beat Chela in Friday's opening match before Nalbandian beat Safin. On Saturday, Russia took a 2-1 lead when Safin and Dmitry Tursunov topped Nalbandian and Agustin Calleri in doubles. (AP)

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