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Nadal puts Spain into quarters

WORLD No. 1 Rafael Nadal beat No. 3 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 yesterday to give champion Spain an unassailable 3-1 lead in their Davis Cup World Group first-round tie.

Nadal and David Ferrer both won their opening singles in straight sets on Saturday, Ferrer upsetting an erratic Djokovic and Australian Open champion Nadal thrashing Janko Tipsarevic to put Spain 2-0 ahead.

Nenad Zimonjic and Viktor Troicki then beat Feliciano Lopez and Tommy Robredo, also in three sets, to keep Serbia alive ahead of the reverse singles.

The tie had been due to begin on Friday but play was postponed after high winds damaged the seating at the purpose-built arena around the claycourt in the hills above the Mediterranean resort of Benidorm.

Against Nadal, Djokovic put up a better fight than he had in his error-strewn loss to Ferrer but he was unable to cope with the powerful Majorcan's superior hitting and his attempts to mix it up with drop shots largely ended in failure.

It was Nadal's 12th win in 12 Davis Cup singles rubbers since he lost his 2004 debut against Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic.

Second seed Spain will play either Germany or Austria in the quarterfinals in July. Germany was leading 2-1.

Argentina and Croatia also eased into the quarterfinals on Saturday while protests outside the venue marred Sweden's tie against Israel.

Argentina's Martin Vasallo Arguello and Lucas Arnold beat Jesse Huta Galung and Rogier Wassen 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 in Saturday's doubles to open up an unbeatable 3-0 lead in Buenos Aires and guarantee a place in the World Group for the ninth straight year.

After winning both singles on Friday, Croatia's Mario Ancic and Marin Cilic teamed up in the doubles to beat Chile's Nicolas Massu and Paul Capdeville 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 on home soil in Porec.

Sweden edged ahead of Israel 2-1 in a near empty arena in Malmo when Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt beat Andy Ram and Amir Hadad 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 as police clashed with anti-Israel demonstrators outside.

Only about 300 special guests watched the five-match series at the 4,000-seat Baltic Hall. Malmo officials had closed the venue to the public, citing security risks.

In other World Group matches the Czech Republic moved 2-1 up against France in Ostrava as Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek beat Richard Gasquet and Michael Llodra 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

But Romania avoided a swift Russian victory at home when Marius Copil and Horia Tecau came from two sets down to upset Marat Safin and Dmitry Tursunov 4-6, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-4.


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