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Tennis: Czechs win seven-hour record epic, Spain face exit

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol on Saturday beat Stanislas Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland in the longest ever Davis Cup rubber, a clash which took 7 hours and two minutes.

The 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 24-22 Geneva epic surpassed the previous record when John McEnroe needed 6 hours 22 minutes to beat Mats Wilander 9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6 in the tie between the United States and Sweden in 1982.

Chiudinelli double-faulted on match point in a fifth set which lasted 3 hours 35 minutes, after he and his partner had earlier saved 12 match points.

The win gave the defending champion Czechs a 2-1 lead in the World Group clash ahead of Sunday's reverse singles with the winners to play either Kazakhstan or Austria in the quarter-finals in April.

The previous longest doubles match in Davis Cup was 6 hours 20 minutes which took place in 2002 when Lucas Arnold and David Nalbandian of Argentina beat Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 19-17.

Wawrinka, the world 17, is due to face Berdych, the sixth-ranked player in the first of Sunday's reverse singles.

In stark contrast, Serbia and France cruised into the quarter-finals as five-time champions Spain faced a humiliating first round exit.

Serbia, the 2010 winners, reached the last eight for the fourth successive season when Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic, playing his 18th Davis Cup season, defeated Steve Darcis and Ruben Bemelmans 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 to secure a 3-0 win over Belgium.

Serbia are likely to face the United States for a semi-final place after the 32-time champions opened a 2-0 lead over Brazil in Florida.

"It looks like it was an easy job but it was very tough playing against the Belgian team and in front of thousands of spectators who are cheering for them," said Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic.

In Rouen, Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau teamed up to move France into the quarter-finals as they powered past Israeli pairing Dudi Sela and Jonathan Erlich.

The French duo won 7-6 (7/3), 6-1, 6-0 in the doubles to cement an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the tie and give new captain Arnaud Clement a debut victory.

"What I saw this weekend was fun -- the commitment, level of play," said Clement.

"The richness of this team is to have plenty of opportunities in both singles and doubles on all surfaces."

France will now head to Argentina, who beat Germany 3-0, in April for their quarter-final.

David Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos clinched the crucial point for an unassailable 3-0 lead by beating Christopher Kas and Tobias Kamke 6-1, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 in Buenos Aries.

In Vancouver, Spain were down 2-0 against Canada, a country who have never previously won a World Group clash.

Missing top players Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro and Fernando Verdasco, the champions in three of the last five years, and runners-up in 2012, were blown off court.

Canadian veteran Frank Dancevic, ranked 166th in the world, stormed to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Marcel Granollers, ranked 34th, to put the hosts up 2-0.

World number 15 Milos Raonic had opened the tie with a 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Albert Ramos.

Spain, who haven't lost in the first round since 2006, now need Granollers and Marc Lopez to beat Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil in the doubles later Saturday to stay alive in the tie.

"It was beautiful tennis - unfortunately it was painful for us," admitted Spain captain Alex Corretja. "We know it may be a miracle if we want to win this tie."

Italy led Croatia 2-1 in Turin after Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli beat Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, 7-6 (13/11) to edge closer to a last-eight tie against either Canada or Spain.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130202/tennis-czechs-win-seven-hour-record-epic-spain-face-exit