Sweden stalls to stand 1-1 with Russia in ARAG final
Sweden stalled in an attempt to sweep to a fourth title at the ARAG World Team Cup as Thomas Johansson failed to nose the Scandinavians to a 2-0 victory against Russia, dpa reported.
Instead, the tie remained locked 1-1 with doubles set to determine the week's champion in a nail-biting finish at the Rochusclub.
Robin Soderling did the early heavy lifting for the Swedes, who booked their finals spot on Thursday, then had Friday to rest and train at the eight-nation event.
While the steady Scandinavians were mapping strategy, Russia didn't go through until a loss from rival Spain (who went down in an upset to Italy), squeezing into the title match only on Friday evening after a stressful day of play.
On Saturday, Soderling stormed past Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-1 in just 63 minutes, leaving the way clear for Johansson to produce a quick finish.
But Russian Igor Andreev had other ideas, firing 13 aces in a struggle lasting almost two hours.
Johansson, a former Australian Open winner, went to the attack too late against the clay-loving Andreev, saving a pair of match points in the ninth game to hold.
But the inspired Andreev struck down any losing chances with a love game to bring on the doubles.
Russia has finished as runner-up three times, 2000 (v Slovakia), 2001 (v Australia) and 2002 (v Argentina).
Sweden won previous title at the key French Open tuneup in 1988 (v US), 1991 (v Yugoslavia) and 1995 (v Croatia) finishing runner-up to France 22 years ago and in 1999 against Australia.