Querrey fightback keeps US hopes alive

Sam Querrey of the US celebrates after winning a point against Marin Cilic of Croatia on Sunday. REUTERS

Understudy Sam Querrey came from the verge of two sets down to pull off a remarkable four-set victory over Croatia's talisman Marin Cilic and draw the United States level at 2-2 in their Davis Cup World Group semifinal in Zadar on Sunday.

Querrey, drafted in by US captain Jim Courier as a replacement for his number one Steve Johnson, was one set down and saved five straight set points in the second before rallying to earn a shock 6-7(2), 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-4 win.

"It's one of the best matches of my career, that's for sure," Querrey told reporters.

It left the tie resting on the outcome of Borna Coric's match with US debutant Frances Tiafoe in the fifth rubber, with the winner guaranteed to take his country into November's final against France, who beat Spain in the other semi.

The US had been 2-0 down after Friday's opening singles, but clung on to the hope of reaching their first final in 11 years when 40-year-old Mike Bryan and Ryan Harrison had to fight courageously to win a five-set doubles on Saturday.

Courier was rewarded for a bold if slightly desperate-looking move when he gambled on throwing Querrey into the must-win fourth rubber even though the 30-year-old had never previously beaten Cilic in six attempts.

Cilic had also become the most successful Croatian Davis Cup player in history on Friday when winning his 37th rubber against Tiafoe but the world number six was found wanting when, after winning the opening set on a tiebreak, he stood on the verge of a commanding lead.

He took a 6-1 lead in the second set tiebreak in superb fashion only to crumble under Querrey's onslaught with the American world number 61 winning seven straight points.

Cilic's early dominance on the outdoor clay, cheered by an enthusiastic crowd in the Dalmatian resort, then evaporated as Querrey took the next two sets to win in three hours and eight minutes.

Ramos salvages pride 

In Villeneuve d'Ascq, Albert Ramos won a meaningless point for Spain when he beat France's Richard Gasquet on Sunday in the Davis Cup semifinal.

France had clinched an unassailable 3-0 lead on Saturday when veteran duo Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut beat Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers in the doubles.

That meant Sunday's reverse singles were played in a curtailed format and, after both players had won one set, Ramos took the match in a super tie-break, 1-6, 6-4 (14-12).

Nicholas Mahut of France faces Marcel Granollers in the final singles.

India lose

Turning out to play the dead fourth rubber, N Sriram Balaji lost to Pedja Krstin in straight sets as India ended the Davis World Group Play-off tie against Serbia without a single win, losing 0-4 in Kraljevo, Serbia on Sunday.

Since the tie was already decided in favour of the hosts, who had taken an unassailable 3-0 lead, India fielded Balaji in place of Ramkumar Ramanathan.

Serbia also changed the nomination, playing Krstin in place of Dusan Lajovic.

Balaji, who is more focused on the doubles, lost 3-6 1-6 in 66 minutes on indoor clay courts at the Kraljevo Sports Venue.

The two sides agreed not to play the fifth rubber.

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Querrey fightback keeps US hopes alive

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