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(E) Croatia beat U.S
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  05/22/2006 | Sports | Unrated
(E) Croatia beat U.S

Croatia beat U.S., Czechs upset Argentina

Eurosport - 22/05/2006
Croatia claimed a 2-1 win over the USA while Czech Republic surprised Argentina with an identical scoreline at the World Team Cup on Monday.

Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic overcame American James Blake 5-7 6-3 7-6 in a magnificent contest that hung in the balance until the final point.

Robby Ginepri then levelled the tie for the U.S. by beating Ivo Karlovic 6-4 7-6 before Ljubicic and Karlovic defeated the world's top-ranked doubles pair Bob and Mike Bryan 6-3 7-6.

Blake, who is finding his feet on clay after once struggling on the surface, made Ljubicic fight hard for his victory.

The Croat broke to lead the final set 5-4 but failed to serve out the match. After breaking again at 5-5 with a superb backhand winner, he was still unable to convert two match points as Blake took the contest to a tiebreak.

"I think it was a really, really high quality match," said Ljubicic.

"I played tough and he played very good. There were winners all over the place, not many unforced errors. Just really good tennis."

"I think I deserved the win... I had most of the chances. I just couldn't close it out earlier. I thought I played probably my best match on clay this season."

Even Blake could take something from the pulsating battle.

"I'll think about the positive things," the American told reporters. "I broke him twice when he was serving for the match, and he's not an easy guy to break at any time. So it's something I take from the match.

"I really feel good about my game on clay. It seems just so much better than it was last year at this time and in years past. Hopefully, my clay court game will continue improving."

The Czech Republic beat Argentina without Radek Stepanek, who withdrew with exhaustion after being beaten by Tommy Robredo in the Hamburg Masters final on Sunday.

Robin Vik defeated Gaston Gaudio 7-6 6-3. The Argentine had broken to lead 6-5 but was unable to serve out the set. Vik sped to a 5-0 lead in the second set before Gaudio offered late resistance.

Tomas Berdych then beat David Nalbandian 6-4 6-4, with Nalbandian later complaining of a sore shoulder.

The World Team Cup, which features six of the world's top 10 players, is played between eight teams split into two groups, with the winners of each group contesting Saturday's final.

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