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Czechs take lead, US cuts Davis gap

The Czech Republic took a 2-1 lead over Argentina in their Davis Cup quarterfinal series after winning the doubles.

Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek defeated Jose Acasuso and Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 on the indoor hardcourt at CEZ Arena in Ostrava, the Czech Republic, yesterday.

The victory puts the Czechs one win away from the semifinals, a stage they haven't reached since 1996. Argentina, last year's Davis Cup runner-up, needs to sweep today's reverse singles to advance to its sixth semis in the last eight years.

The reverse singles will tentatively pit Berdych against Juan Martin del Potro and Ivo Minar against Juan Monaco.

The winner of the best-of-five tie will face the United States or Croatia in the September 18-20 semis.

In Porec, Croatia, Bob and Mike Bryan brush aside Roko Karanusic and Lovro Zovko in doubles yesterday to keep the US alive in their quarterfinals, cutting Croatia's lead to 2-1.

The Bryan brothers cruised to a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win on the indoor clay at Zatika Hall.

James Blake will try to even the series today when he plays Croatia's Marin Cilic in the first reverse singles. Mardy Fish is set to play the final singles against Ivo Karlovic.

On Friday, Israel surprisingly led Russia 2-0 and defending champion Spain, hosting Germany in Marbella, was 1-1.

In Tel Aviv, Israel was on the verge of reaching its first semifinals at the expense of two-time champion Russia, after Dudi Sela beat Mikhail Youzhny 3-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 and Harel Levy topped Igor Andreev 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.

Spain was fortunate to finish tied with Germany after No. 9-ranked Fernando Verdasco had to rally to beat Andreas Beck 6-0, 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1 in the first singles at the Puerto Banus bullring.

Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Tommy Robredo, filling in for an injured David Ferrer, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.


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