MELBOURNE, Australia -- Australia remained in contention for its 29th Davis Cup by finishing off Belarus 3-0 Saturday with a doubles victory by veterans Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley.
Arthurs and Hanley outlasted Max Mirnyi and Vladimir Voltchkov
3-6, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 to give Australia an unbeatable lead
heading into Sunday's reverse singles.
Chris Guccione and Lleyton Hewitt had given Australia a 2-0 lead
Friday in the opening singles at Kooyong, the former home of the
Advancing to the semifinals for the fifth time in eight years,
Australia will play either defending champion Croatia at home or
Argentina in South America from Sept. 22-24. Croatia and Argentina
were tied 1-1 heading into the doubles match.
Australia, which has also finished runner-up 19 times in Davis
Cup, saved 14 of 16 break points in Saturday's doubles.
"Stressful stuff isn't it?" Arthurs said of Australia's
up-and-down form in the match. "I got off to a horrendous start; I
was very tense in the first few sets."
At 5-5 in the deciding set, Arthurs and Hanley broke Voltchkov's
serve, taking the game when Arthurs' forehand went between the two
Belarus players on the baseline. It came just three games after
Australia fought off two breaks points on Hanley's serve.
With Hanley serving for the match, the Australians needed three
match points, finally winning when Mirnyi's return of serve went
On Friday, Guccione beat Mirnyi in nearly four hours, winning
7-6 (4), 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4. Hewitt, playing for the first time at
Kooyong, easily beat Voltchkov 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.
"We've played big matches before, and I think that brought us
through today," said Hanley.
Australia captain John Fitzgerald said his players kept their
cool in the blustery conditions despite being down a set early and
2-1 after three sets.
"They were very levelheaded today," said Fitzgerald.
"Belarus, they are good hitters of the ball. You have to withstand
that power a little bit and have confidence."
The match, played before approximately 6,000 spectators in the
8,000-seat arena, was the first Davis Cup match at Kooyong since
Hewitt is scheduled to play Mirnyi and Guccione will play
Voltchkov in Sunday's meaningless singles, although Hewitt is
likely to be replaced.
"We'll talk together as a team tonight and work it out," said
Fitzgerald. "He [Hewitt] doesn't generally like to play the dead