Davis Cup: Slovakia, Croatia tied at 1-1

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:53 IST

Slovakia and Croatia lined up at the Sibamac Arena in Bratislava on Friday with both countries contesting the Davis Cup final for the first time.

Davis Cup: Slovakia, Croatia tied at 1-1

Bratislava:

Slovakia and Croatia lined up at the Sibamac Arena in Bratislava on Friday with both countries contesting the Davis Cup final for the first time. Slovakia's bid to claim their first Davis Cup title suffered a big blow, when Karol Beck was forced to pull out of the opening singles match against world number nine Ivan Ljubicic, due to a knee injury. Instead, it was left to veteran and former world number six Karol Kucera to take on one of the most improved players on the ATP Tour. Ljubicic was quickly into his stride, serving up a selection of booming serves and powerful groundstrokes. First-time finalistsIt didn't take long for the world number nine to take control over Kucera, who has played sparingly this year and plans to retire after this weekend's best-of-five series between the two first-time finalists. Ljubicic, hitting big groundstrokes from both sides of the court, broke serve for a 4-2 lead and that was all that was required to secure the opening set 6-3. The second set followed a similar pattern. The Croat again needed just the one break of serve, in the third game, for a decisive edge - going 2-1 up after thumping a forehand smash flashed past the despairing Kucera. The Slovakian player was doing himself no favours by producing a string of unforced errors and Ljubicic was making sure that he took full advantage. The opening singles match was just about over as a contest when Ljubicic broke Kucera's serve in the first game of the third set. Kucera looked to have the point won, as he ran Ljubicic from one side of the court to the other, but the Croat produced a stunning running forehand that his opponent couldn't return, to secure the early break. Fittingly, Ljubicic finished the match in spectacular style, whipping another backhand winner crosscourt past Kucera, to wrap up a one-sided 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory. Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia levelled the final 1-1 with victory over Croatia's Mario Ancic in the second singles match. Hrbaty won in four sets, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-7 (7-4), 6-4. (AP)



Topics : Tennis Daniela Hantuchova Slovakia
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