- The Washington Times - Monday, July 13, 2009

From combined dispatches

POREC, Croatia | The United States was eliminated by Croatia in the Davis Cup quarterfinals Sunday when Marin Cilic beat James Blake to clinch the victory.

Cilic won 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 on indoor clay to give Croatia its first semifinal berth since winning the competition in 2005. Croatia won 3-2 after American doubles specialist Bob Bryan beat Roko Karanusic 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the final match.

“I think I played a perfect match against Blake,” the 20-year-old Cilic said. “This is one of the most important victories in my career.”

The Americans, the 32-time champions, have lost all three meetings against Croatia in the Davis Cup, including defeats in 2003 and 2005. The U.S. won the competition two years ago and was bidding to reach the semifinals for the fourth straight year.

The Croats will take on the Czech Republic at home in September. The Czechs beat Argentina 3-2 on Sunday.

“We have a great chance against the Czechs at home,” Cilic said. “It’s much better than playing Argentina away.”

In other quarterfinals, Spain advanced 3-2 at home against Germany and will meet Israel in the semifinals. Israel clinched its series against Russia on Saturday and completed a 4-1 victory Sunday.

The United States was without Andy Roddick, who withdrew because of a hip injury after losing a five-set final to Roger Federer at Wimbledon. That left Blake as the Americans’ No. 1 singles player.

“It shows how important Andy is for the team,” Blake said. “Being on the No. 2 spot is less pressure than playing on the No. 1 spot.”

U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe acknowledged that without Roddick the Americans faced a “better team.”

“Cilic had a great match. I’m very impressed by his maturity,” McEnroe said. “His serve was definitely better than Blake’s today.”

Ram upsets Querrey

NEWPORT, R.I. | Rajeev Ram beat third-seeded Sam Querrey, 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-3, in the Hall of Fame Tennis championships for his first ATP title.

The 25-year old Ram, a lucky loser after top-seeded Mardy Fish withdrew Monday to replace Roddick on the U.S. Davis Cup team, won the first all-American final on Newport’s grass courts in seven years.

It was the first ATP final for Ram, the 181st ranked player entering the week and the lowest ranked to win an event this year.

Szavay wins Budapest

BUDAPEST, Hungary | Agnes Szavay of Hungary won the Budapest Grand Prix, rallying to beat Patty Schnyder of Switzerland 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the final.

It was Szavay’s third WTA Tour singles title.

Schnyder lost her serve twice in the first set but broke Szavay four times. In the second, the fourth-seeded Szavay broke decisively to lead 2-1 and then broke twice more in the decider.

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