Safin and Andreev put Russia in charge in Chile

Former world number one Marat Safin and injury-haunted Igor Andreev got Russia's Davis Cup defence off to a flying start against Chile.

Safin eased to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Nicolas Massu in their World Group first round tie while Andreev, whose career was sidelined with a knee injury last year, defeated Australian Open finalist Fernando Gonzalez 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.

Chile must now win Saturday's doubles to keep their 10-match home tie winning streak alive.

Massu had never previously lost a Davis Cup singles rubber in Chile but Safin, who sealed Russia's triumph in the final in Moscow last year, was in great form, converting six of seven break point opportunities and producing just ten unforced errors, AFP reports.

Russia's victory extends their winning record over Chile in Davis Cup tennis to four matches dating back to their first meeting in 1963.

Andreev, ranked more than 100 places below Massu, played the first two sets as if he were the favourite, finding the corners with a series of elegant ground strokes and breaking serve seemingly at will.

The Chilean managed to stay with the Russian in the third set, taking it to a tiebreak which he won comfortably, but Andreev broke serve early in the fourth and kept his nerve to seal victory in the face of constant heckling from the home crowd.

In Sunday's earlier reverse singles, Gonzalez displayed the blistering form he showed at last month's Australian Open to beat Safin 6-3 7-5 6-4.

Adapting well to the slow red clay of this Pacific beach resort, the Chilean broke serve twice in the first set to come from behind and take it in 46 minutes.

He took the second thanks to a break of serve in the 11th game, producing a series of blazing forehand winners to the delight of 7 000 raucous home fans, the Independent Online reports.

Germany topped Croatia, 3-2; France belted Romania, 4-1; and Argentina was a 4-1 winner over Austria.
In the next round, the United States will face Spain, Sweden meets Argentina, Belgium plays Germany and Russia faces France, reports.

Source: agencies

Prepared by Alexander Timoshik

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Author`s name Alex Naumov