BORAS, SWEDEN: Doubles specialists Robert Lindstedt and Simon Aspelin put Sweden into the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinals thanks to a tense four-set victory over Russians Dmitry Tursunov and Igor Kunitsyn in Boras on Saturday.
The 64 67(6) 76(6) 62 victory made the overall score 3-0 in Sweden’s favour after Robin Soderling and Joachim Johansson had put the hosts 2-0 up after the first day’s singles.
The result means Swedish captain Thomas Enqvist can start planning for July’s quarterfinals and another home tie against either defending champions Serbia or their first round opponents India.
Ultimately, what was an absorbing doubles turned the Swedes’ way towards the end of a topsy-turvy third set. After Aspelin and Lindstedt had taken the opener after breaking Kunitsyn in the seventh game, the Russians did admirably to level the match, saving two set points during a second set that finally went their way 8-6 in the tiebreak.
The Russians clearly had the momentum at the start of the third, engineering break points in the first two of Sweden’s service games. Although they couldn’t convert, they looked good for a two-sets-to-one lead after breaking Aspelin’s serve to go 5-4 in front.
The Swedes had other ideas, however, and roared on by a small but noisy crowd broke straight back. A pair of double faults from Lindstedt helped hand back the initiative to the Russians as they broke once more for 6-5, but again they faltered serving for the set and the tie went into another tiebreak.
The tide seemed to turn Sweden’s way during a moment of controversy with Tursunov serving at 5-4 in the shootout. Although he thought his second serve had clipped the line, it was called long and his double fault threw Sweden a lifeline.
Although the Russians regrouped to stand at set point with Aspelin serving at 5-6, the Swedes held their nerve impressively to wrap up the breaker 8-6.
The loss of the third set was a body blow for the Russian team, particularly Tursunov whose appetite for the battle seemed to be disappearing fast.
The Swedes sensed this was their time, quickly secured a double break and a 4-0 lead and a few minutes later were celebrating a hard-earned victory with captain Enqvist and the rest of their team.
Afterwards, the Swedes admitted that they knew the third set would prove decisive. “Everyone was making quite a few mistakes,” said Aspelin. “We hung in there and they got a little tight when they needed the third set just like when I did when I served for the second. Winning the third was key. In the fourth set we played much better.”
“Davis Cup is nothing like the matches you play on tour - it’s a privilege and tons and tons of fun,” Lindstedt added. “Pressure, yes, but lots of fun.”
Not surprisingly, Enqvist was beaming as he emerged from a noisy dressing room deep in the bowels of the southern Swedish town’s Borashallen. “I’m very proud of the guys,” he said, “they’ve been working really hard coming into this game, preparing really well. We’re very excited to win.”
Robert Lindstedt and Simon Aspelin (SWE) - 05/03/2011
Thomas Enqvist (SWE) - 05/03/2011