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U.S. team facing 2-0 deficit in Davis Cup

By TIMES WIRES
Published September 23, 2006


MOSCOW - In order to advance to the final of the Davis Cup, the United States will have to mount its biggest comeback in more than 70 years.

Andy Roddick and James Blake lost their singles matches Friday at the Davis Cup, handing the U.S. team a 2-0 deficit against Russia in a semifinal.

Roddick lost to Marat Safin 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) in the opening match and Blake, a Tampa resident, fell to Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 1-6, 6-1, 7-5. Russia can clinch the best-of-five series today with a win in doubles.

The last time the United States came back from a 2-0 Davis Cup deficit was in 1934 against Australia.

"Obviously, our backs are against the wall," captain Patrick McEnroe said. "I believe in these guys. I think they can play well on clay."

The winner faces Australia or Argentina in the final in December.

Bob and Mike Bryan, the world's top doubles team, play for the United States. Youzhny and Dmitry Tursunov are scheduled to play for Russia, though the pairings can be changed up to an hour before the match. The loss was only the eighth in 21 Davis Cup matches for Roddick, while Safin improved to 25-14.

CHINA OPEN: Top-ranked Amelie Mauresmo defeated Lindsay Davenport 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the semifinals in Beijing and end a nine-match losing streak against the former No. 1. Mauresmo won 74 percent of her first serves to overpower Davenport for the first time since beating the American in the final of the 2000 Sydney International. She is 4-12 against Davenport in her career. "It was frustrating to have lost so many times in a row," Mauresmo said. "Tonight I really took control of the game; it was a nice reversal." Mauresmo next meets sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic, who rallied to beat Nadia Petrova 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

SUNFEAST OPEN: Top-seeded Martina Hingis defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn 7-5, 6-2 in Calcutta, India, to advance to the semifinals. Hingis plays fifth-seeded Sania Mirza, who overcame Aravane Rezai 6-4, 7-5. "Sania has a great forehand that I saw during my only match against her," said Hingis, who beat her at the Dubai Open in February. The other semifinal pits qualifier Iroda Tulyaganova against Olga Poutchkova. Tulyaganova rallied to overcome Alla Kudryavtseva 4-6, 6-2, 6-2; Poutchkova defeated Alberta Brianti 7-5, 6-3.

SLOVENIA OPEN: Fifteen-year-old Tamira Paszek of Austria advanced to her first WTA semifinal, beating Andreja Klepac 6-4, 6-2 in Portoroz. Paszek, a qualifier who was runnerup at this year's junior U.S. Open, faces seventh-seeded Emilie Loit in today's semis. Loit beat ninth-seeded Jarmila Gajdosova 6-3, 6-3.

ET CETERA

NBA: Larry Brown is seeking a $53.5-million payoff from the New York Knicks for firing him after only one season as coach, Newsday reported. Along with the $41-million that remained on the original five-year contract he signed in the summer of 2005, Brown is asking for an additional 25 percent of the original value of the $50-million contract, or an additional $12.5-million, as "liquidated damages" as a result of the firing. ... Dajuan Wagner, the once-promising point guard whose career was derailed by injuries and a serious illness, signed with the Golden State Warriors after being out of the league for nearly two years. Wagner was the sixth pick in the 2002 draft by Cleveland after just one collegiate season at Memphis, but health problems prevented him from becoming the star most expected.

HORSES: A record $2.5-million stakes program for the 2006-07 meet at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar features purse increases for five of 26 stakes races, including the track's Kentucky Derby prep races, the Tampa Bay Derby on March 17 and Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 17. The track's 81st season opens Dec. 9 with the $60,000 Inaugural Stakes for 2-year-olds and ends May 6.

OLYMPICS: The three American cities vying for a 2016 bid have delivered 60-page reports to the U.S. Olympic Committee detailing their plans. San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago met the deadline to show the USOC their plans in 10 major categories: Games concept, political support, venues, transportation, accommodations, finance, security, experience, international strategy and USOC partnership plans. The reports are the second stage in the six-step domestic bidding process.