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Monaco can't boost Argentina's cause

ESPN staff
September 14, 2012 « Resolute Palace eke out derby victory | Chartbeat test »
Nicolas Almagro edged a dramatic tie © PA Photos
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Juan Monaco was unable to convert a great chance to defeat Tomas Berdych to leave Argentina's Davis Cup semi-final against Czech Republic evenly poised heading into the second day.

After Juan Martin Del Potro had disposed of Radek Stepanek to give the home side the lead in Buenos Aires, world No. 11 Monaco knew he could put his country on the verge of the final with a first ever career victory against world No. 6 Berdych.

The match, played on clay, did not start well for Monaco, however, as he lost the opening set 6-1. But he fought back to claim the next two, before moving a break ahead in the fourth stanza. But Berdych is not world No. 6 for nothing, and fought back to force a fifth set - one he would eventually take with a final break of Monaco's serve.

Berdych eventually won 6-1 4-6 1-6 6-4 6-4 in just over four hours, setting the stage for a crucial doubles match on Saturday - and a potentially decisive singles battle with Del Potro, who cried with joy after battling a wrist injury to defeat Stepanek with relative ease.

In the other semi-final, Spain will take a 2-0 lead into the second day of their match against the United States after David Ferrer brushed aside Sam Querrey and Nicolas Almagro defeated John Isner in a five-set epic.

Spain are without the injured Rafael Nadal but, on the clay of Gijon, are still expected to progress to the final - but Almagro was given a surprisingly stiff test by the big serving Isner. In the end he triumphed, however, claiming a 6-4 4-6 6-4 3-6 7-5 victory.

In the World Group play-offs, Roger Federer helped Switzerland open up a 2-0 lead over Netherlands, after demolishing Thiemo de Bakker in Amsterdam - while Belgium are also on course for victory against Sweden.

Australia are tied 1-1 against Germany , thanks to a win for Bernard Tomic but a defeat for Lleyton Hewitt against Florian Mayer.

Elsewhere in the world group playoffs, Uzbekistan remain locked with Kazakhstan and Japan are 1-1 with Israel. Canada hold a 2-0 lead over South Africa, while Brazil hold a surprise advantage over Russia by the same margin.

Meanwhile, play in the second rubber of the tie between Italy and Chile has been suspended. Italy have a 1-0 lead courtesy of Andreas Seppi's win, but Fabio Fognini was locked in a five-set duel with Paul Capdeville before the match was halted.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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