Israel wraps up Luxemburg tie; Davis Cup quarterfinals set

There are nine Italians ranked higher by the ATP than Israel's best singles player, Noam Okun (169).

davis cup 298.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
davis cup 298.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Israel's Davis Cup team completed a 5-0 sweep of Luxemburg on Sunday afternoon, after Andy Ram and Dudi Sela won the two remaining singles rubbers at Ramat Hasharon. Ram, who rarely plays singles matches, defeated Laurent Bram 6-2, 5-7, 6-4, in the first match of the day, and Sela (173) securing Israel's perfect victory with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Gilles Kremer (1418). The team's focus will now turn to the weekend of April 6-8, when a strong Italian side will come to Israel to play for a spot in the World Group playoffs. There are nine Italians ranked higher by the ATP than Israel's best singles player, Noam Okun (169). Israel and Italy have played each other in the Davis Cup once before. The Italians defeated the blue-and-white 4-1 in the first round of the World Group in 1988. "I want to thank my players for this victory," Israel captain Eyal Ran said. "We have an excellent team which is focused on the goal ahead. Let's hope we can continue this momentum in the interesting tie against Italy." Spain and the UShead to quarterfinals Spain, the United States, Argentina, Germany, France, Sweden, Belgium and Russia advanced to the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup World Group - each with a match to spare. Spain, playing without the injured Rafael Nadal, beat Switzerland 3-2. Fernando Verdasco earned the winning point for the Spanish team by beating Stephane Bohli 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in the first reverse singles match. The US got its deciding point from Andy Roddick, who is 8-0 with victory on the line, in the 31-time champion's win at the Czech Republic. The fourth-ranked Roddick beat Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(4) to give the Americans an insurmountable 3-1 lead and the US went on to win 4-1 after Bob Bryan defeated Lukas Dlouhy 7-6(5), 6-4. "As far as the weight of the situation goes, it definitely could be one of my best matches on clay," Roddick said. Verdasco won easily for Spain, converting five-of-eight break points and taking advantage of Bohli's 33 unforced errors in Geneva. Marco Chiudinelli beat David Ferrer 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the fifth match. The second-ranked Nadal was expected to play in the first round, but he injured a muscle in training before Friday's opening singles match. Bohli, ranked 278th, was filling in for the injured Stanislas Wawrinka. Top-ranked Roger Federer ruled himself out of the match in November so he could concentrate on keeping his No. 1 ranking. In the other first round ties, it was: France 4, Romania 1; ; Sweden 3, Belarus 2; Germany 3, Croatia 2; Argentina 4, Austria 1; Belgium 3, Australia 2; and Russia 3, Chile 2. Petrova rallies to beat Safarova Nadia Petrova came back from a set down to beat Lucie Safarova 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and win the Open Gaz de France in Paris. The Russian player won her seventh career title and first since beating Tatiana Golovin at Stuttgart, Germany, in October 2006. Safarova saved three match points, but Petrova clinched the win when the Czech's powerful forehand bounced out. The 20-year-old Safarova beat three top 10 players to reach the final. She had lost her two previous finals in straight sets, against Anna Chakvetadze at Moscow and Maria Sharapova at Linz, Austria. AP contributed to this report.