KAZAN, RUSSIA: Russia are through to the Davis Cup World Group after Dmitry Tursunov edged over Ricardo Mello in the decisive fifth rubber 61 76(5) 26 63.
After the mouth-watering 5-hour contest between Mikhail Youzhny and Thomaz Bellucci, it was Tursunov's mission to try and put the final nail in Brazil's coffin.
And with Mello far from his best form and 79 spots separating the two in the singles rankings, there was hope the decider wouldn't take as long as the previous contest.
Tursunov got off to a flying start, allowing his opponent just one game in the opening set. But the second turned out a much closer affair and went into a tie-breaker, where the Russian was just able to prevail 7-5 to take a two set lead.
Mello, however, came out hot off the changeover and opened the third with a break. As he appeared to gain confidence, he got another one in the fifth game and eventually pulled one set back 6-2.
Mello appeared to bring that momentum into the fourth until Tursunov stepped it up a notch and broke the Brazilian in the sixth game. Three games later, he served out the final victorious game to take the match in two hours 56 minutes.
And just like that, Russia came back from 1-2 behind in the tie to clinch a spot in the next year's World Group.
Mikhail Youzhny wins another epic Davis Cup match
With what was close to a full house at Kazan's Tennis Academy, Russia's top gun Mikhail Youzhny stepped onto the court needing a win against Brazil's top man Thomaz Bellucci to keep his team alive in the tie. Youzhny survived an epic five-hour match against Bellucci, saving two match points, to force a decisive fifth rubber. The Russian failed to give up, eventually prevailing 26 63 57 64 1412.
The match-up looked as close as it was on paper until 2-0 in the first set, when Bellucci took the next four games to take the opener 6-2.
However, Youzhny was able to recover and find his rhythm, making his first break of the match in the sixth game of the second, which enabled him to level the match at one set apiece.
In the third, the crowd support, led by Dmitry Tursunov's savvy cheerleading, reached new sonic levels. All signs were pointing to a tie break, but instead, Bellucci was able to break Youzhny in the 12th game to regain the lead.
But once again, Youzhny didn't budge and opened the fourth with a break. Meanwhile, Bellucci seemed to lose his focus as the contest went to a deciding fifth set.
As the match approached three hours, Youzhny looked exhausted, having already called the team doctor to attend to his thighs. Still, he took to the court clenching a towel with his teeth and once again opened the set with a break. Fired up, he went on to save a couple of break points in the following game to take it after a long deuce. But the Brazilian pulled himself together and broke his opponent back in the 10th game to ensure that the contest would pass the four-hour mark.
In the 18th game, Youzhny was able to save two match-points to keep the battle going. Some half an hour and six more games later, the Russian finally managed a break: all he had to do now was hold his own serve.
And after five exhausting hours of tennis, the world No. 32 took that final game to love to level the tie at 2-2.
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) - 18/09/2011
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) - 18/09/2011
Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) - 18/09/11