|Friday, February 8
Sampras, Roddick go four sets in Davis Cup wins
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Pete Sampras and Andy Roddick each had some trouble, but won their matches Friday to give the United States a 2-0 lead over Slovakia in the first round of Davis Cup play.
Sampras, playing Davis Cup for the first time since April 2000, lost a second-set tiebreaker and trailed 3-5 in the fourth set before rallying to beat Karol Beck 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-1, 7-5.
Roddick followed with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5) 7-6 (1) victory over Jan Kroslak.
The U.S. doubles team of James Blake and Mardy Fish can clinch the best-of-three series with a victory Saturday over Kroslak and Beck.
The 19-year-old Beck has played in just 11 tournaments in his career -- two fewer than the number of Grand Slam singles titles for Sampras. But he gave Sampras a workout and threatened to extend the match to five sets.
"It's always a little tricky playing someone who you have no idea how he plays," Sampras said. "He came out swinging away like I thought he would. He had nothing to lose."
"Before the match, I was thinking when I make a good result, like break him or take a set, it will be unbelievable," Beck said. "Then I was on the court and was like, 'Yeah, I can play with him.' "
After Sampras broke Beck twice in the first set, the two stayed on serve throughout the second. Sampras had a chance at a break in the fourth game, but Beck rallied from love-40 to win. In the tiebreaker, Beck won the first four points and won it easily.
He then won the first five points of the third set before Sampras got going and won 24 of the next 28, including the final 11.
"I don't know what happened. I lost my mind or something," Beck said.
Beck had five aces in his first two service games of the fourth set, then used a nice return of serve to break Sampras in the fifth game.
Trailing 3-5, Sampras held serve at love and then broke back in the 10th game to make it 5-all. In that game, it was 30-all when Beck hit a forehand into the net, then followed that with a forehand that just missed.
Sampras won the next game at love to go ahead 6-5. Beck won just one point in the final game, netting a backhand at 15-all and then hitting his final two forehands wide to give Sampras the victory.
"I felt he was going to have to close it out there, and maybe a little inexperience would come into play and it did," Sampras said. "He missed a couple shots here and there and I was able to capitalize on some of his errors."
Roddick improved to 4-0 in Davis Cup, but stumbled a bit along the way. He took a 5-1 lead in the first tiebreaker before losing his next three service points to let Kroslak back in the match.
He then failed to serve out the match leading 5-3 in the fourth set, but dominated the second tiebreaker.
"I think I was getting too excited and lost my concentration a bit, and before I knew it, it was 5-all," Roddick said of the first tiebreaker. "I just wanted to recover and not make the same mistake in the fourth."
Elsewhere in world group play, Sebastian Grosjean and Arnaud Clement won their singles matches to give defending champion France a 2-0 lead over the Netherlands. Grosjean beat Edwin Kempes 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-2 on clay in Metz, France, and Clement edged Sjeng Schalken 7-5, 2-6, 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-2.
Argentina led 2001 runner-up Australia 2-0 in Buenos Aires, with Guillermo Canas beating Scott Draper 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, and Gaston Gaudio routing Andrew Ilie 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.
In Moscow, Roger Federer stunned Australian Open runner-up Marat Safin 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 on clay to help Switzerland gain a tie with Russia.
In Birmingham, England, Britain and Sweden ended the first day tied at 1. Britain's Tim Henman beat Jonas Bjorkman 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, and Sweden's Thomas Enqvist evened it by beating Greg Rusedski 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-2.
In other matches, the Czech Republic leads Brazil 2-0. The Spain-Morocco, Russia-Switzerland, and Croatia-Germany matches all ended the first day tied at 1.