Russia has taken a 2-0 lead over the United States after the opening singles matches of a Davis Cup tennis semifinal in Moscow.
Marat Safin defeated U.S. Open finalist Andy Roddick in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6, to give Russia a 1-0 lead. In the second match Friday, Mikhail Youzhny beat American James Blake in four sets (7-5, 1-6, 6-1, 7-5). The doubles are Saturday with the reverse singles matches on Sunday.
The three-day, best-of-five tie in Moscow is being played indoors on a clay court. During his match, Roddick complained about the court, and both he and Safin fixed blemishes with their feet. However, the American did not blame the court for his loss.
The Russia-USA winner faces either Australia or Argentina in the Davis Cup final in December. Argentina took the opening match of the other semifinal in Buenos Aires, with David Nalbandian defeating Mark Philippoussis in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
In playoffs for nations trying to reach the Davis Cup World Group for 2007, world number-one Roger Federer gave Switzerland a 1-0 lead over Serbia, defeating Janko Tipsarevic, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
But 21st-ranked Novak Djokovic evened things up with a five-set victory over Stanislas Wawrinka (6-4, 3-6, 2-6, 7-7, 6-4).
Switzerland was relegated to the playoffs after losing to Australia in the first round of the World Group earlier this year. Federer missed that best-of-five series. Serbia, looking to join the World Group, qualified by defeating Britain in zonal group play in April. On Saturday, Federer will partner Yves Allegro in the doubles match against Ilia Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic.
The playoff winners qualify for the 2007 World Group. The losers play in their respective zonal groups.
Also in the playoffs Friday, the Czech Republic grabbed a 2-0 lead over the Netherlands. Jiri Novak needed eight match points in a fourth set tiebreaker to defeat Raemon Sluiter (6-2, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6). Then Tomas Berdych fired a service ace on match point in his straights sets win over Robin Haase (6-2, 6-4, 6-4).
South Korea and Romania are tied at 1-1 after their opening singles play in Bucharest. Lee Hyung-taik routed Romanian Victor Crivoi, 6-1, 6-1, 6-0, to even things up after Romanian Andrei Pavel beat Jun Woong-sun, 6-0, 6-4, 6-3.
Visiting Italy took a 1-0 lead against Spain in Santander as Filippo Volandri beat Tommy Robredo in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3. But world number two Rafael Nadal got the hosts even with a straights set win over Andreas Seppi, 6-0, 6-4, 6-3.
Thailand took a surprising 1-0 lead over host Germany in Dusseldorf, as Danai Udomchoke upset Tommy Haas in the maximum five sets, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3. But the Germans tied it as Florian Mayer edged Paradorn Srichaphan in five sets, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
And host Austria, playing at home in Portschach has a 2-0 lead against Mexico.