LONDON – Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich leapt into each others arms after they guided Israel into the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time on Saturday.
Israel was the only team to seal a place in the last four following the doubles, while the three other World Group ties hung in the balance after day two of the men’s team competition.
Ram and Erlich hung on for almost four hours to beat twice former champion Russia following a thrilling 6-3, 6-4, 6-7, 4-6, 6-4 win over Marat Safin and Igor Kunitsyn in Tel Aviv.
Bob and Mike Bryan kept the US in the hunt for a semifinal place with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win over Croatian pair Roko Karanusic and Lovro Zovko in Porec.
The Bryan brothers had to win the doubles to take the tie into a third day after the US came off second best in Friday’s epic singles matches, which both went to five sets.
The Czech Republic grabbed a 2-1 lead over 2008 runner-up Argentina in Ostrava while champion Spain also nosed 2-1 ahead of Germany in Marbella.
In Marbella Fernando Verdasco said he was “super happy” after he and fellow left-hander Feliciano Lopez handed Spain the psychological edge with a 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 win over Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer and Mischa Zverev.
The Americans will be aiming to have plenty to say on Sunday by winning both reverse singles against host Croatia.
Tomas Berdych was drafted in at the last minute to partner Radek Stepanek and Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil’s gamble paid off as his men beat Argentine hot-heads Jose Acasuso and Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.
Martinez Sanchez on top
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 7-5, 6-4 Saturday to win the Swedish Open for her second WTA Tour title.
The unseeded Spaniard, who won her first title in Bogota in February, rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the second set.
In Rhode Island, US lucky loser Rajeev Ram advanced to his first ATP final by defeating Belgium’s Olivier Rochus 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday at the $500,000 ATP Hall of Fame Championship.
Ram will play in Sunday’s final against US third seed Sam Querrey, who beat Fabrice Santoro of France 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).
Santoro won back-to-back matches Friday to reach the semifinals. Santoro defeated American Taylor Dent 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 in the second round before registering a 6-4, 6-4 win over countryman Nicolas Mahut.
Querrey rallied to beat Prakash Amritraj 6-7 (7-9), 6-3, 6-2, in the second round, then breezed past seventh-seeded American Kevin Kim, 6-3, 6-4.
In Hungary, top-seeded Patty Schnyder of Switzerland and No. 4 Agnes Szavay of Hungary advanced to the final of the Budapest Grand Prix on Saturday.
Schnyder beat Edina Gallovits of Romania 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals, while Szavay defeated sixth-seeded Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-1, 6-2.
Schnyder first had to complete a 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 quarterfinal win over Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova, after the match was suspended in the first set Friday because of rain. – Agencies