Madrid: Rafael Nadal won back-to-back matches to propel Spain to a 2-1 victory over Argentina and a place in the semi-finals of the new-look Davis Cup on Friday.
World No. 1 Nadal thrashed Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-2 to pull Spain level after Guido Pella put the Argentines ahead with a 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 win over Pablo Carreno.
Nadal then teamed with Marcel Granollers to beat Maximo Gonzalez and Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in a must-win doubles match to see Spain into a final-four clash with Great Britain.
“I had a good singles match, but the doubles came down to a few balls because the game was very close,” Nadal said. “It’s a great victory, but we don’t have time to enjoy it - we have to rest because tomorrow it will be difficult again.”
Britain, meanwhile, eased into the semis with an efficient 2-0 effort over Germany.
Andy Murray was rested on Friday but will likely feature in the semi-finals. In his absence, Kyle Edmund beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-5 in the first rubber with Daniel Evans taking three sets to see off Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 7-6 (7/2).
Earlier, Russia beat Novak Djokovic’s Serbia to reach the semi-finals following a cliff-hanger match that went all the way to a deciding tie-breaker.
With the quarter-final level at 1-1 following the singles, the Russian pairing of Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev faced Djokovic and Viktor Troicki in the deciding rubber.
After a see-saw match of high drama the Russians came out 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10/8) winners and face Canada, quarter-final victors over Australia, in Saturday’s semi-finals.
“It was heads or tails and the coin fell on our side,” Rublev said.
“God gave me a chance to be a hero,” he added.
Kachanov was already looking forward to the next match.
“We’ll have to get it together for Canada,” he said of the semi-final.
“Luck was on our side here, but this was one of the biggest games of either our careers.”
Earlier in the day Rublev won the first singles over Filip Krajinovic 6-1, 6-2 to give Russia a lead, cancelled out later by Djokovic, who overcame Khachanov 6-3, 6-3.
The world No. 2 Djokovic, winner of 16 Grand Slams said the match had been “a real roller-coaster of a game, very, very emotional and very tense”.
“Sport is not all about winning and losing but this hurts me personally,” said the 32-year-old.
“Anyway the season is over now, we’ll get over it. Tomorrow is another day.”