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Croatia leads U.S. 1-0 Ljubicic wins
The U.S. Davis Cup team with Taylor Dent,Robby Genepri, James Blake and Mardi Fish pose with the Croatian team membersMario Ancic, Ivan Ljubicic, Lovro Zovko and Goran Ivanisevic, from left, inZagreb on Thursday Feb. 6, 2003, after the draw for the Croatia against USADavis Cup first round tournament to be played in Zagreb this weekend. (AP Photo/HrvojeKnez)
February 7, 2003 Print it
ZAGREB, Croatia -- Ivan Ljubicic served 30 aces and beat Mardy Fish 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 Friday to give Croatia a 1-0 lead over the United States in the first round of the Davis Cup. James Blake had a chance to tie the best-of-five series later Friday against Mario Ancic on the quick indoor court. Ljubicic's string of brilliant serves demoralized Fish, who was making his Davis Cup singles debut. The Croatian ended the match with an ace.
"I've never played anybody with a serve like that," said Fish, who had 11 aces. His only previous Davis Cup match was in doubles. Ljubicic improved his Davis Cup record to 15-10. He overcame 16 double faults, including two in the final game. "My strategy is pretty much to go for it on the serve and not have to play," Ljubicic said.
The inexperienced U.S. team is without its top player, Andy Roddick, who has tendinitis in his right wrist.
In Saturday's doubles, Blake and Fish will face Ljubicic and 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic.
Ivanisevic has not played a competitive match since shoulder surgery in May. He expects his left arm to hurt Saturday.
"It's going to be painful. Now we're going to see how big the pain is going to be," Ivanisevic said. "We'll see if I can survive with the pain for three or four hours or not." Ivanisevic said the pain had moved to his elbow and biceps -- but only on the serve. That's his biggest weapon, of course. "You don't play the United States every day. Especially not at home," the 31-year-old Croatian said. "It doesn't matter who plays for them; they can make 10 teams in Davis Cup. For me it's very important to play and very important for us to win and I'm going to do everything to play on Saturday.
"If I have to walk on my head all day today and sleep on the street to play, I'll do that."
The United States has won the Davis Cup a record 31 times, but its last title came in 1995.
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