(Reuters) – World number five Andrey Rublev gave the Russian Tennis Federation a 1-0 lead over Sweden in their Davis Cup quarter-final after a hard-fought 6-2 5-7 7-6(3) victory over Elias Ymer in Madrid on Thursday.
The 24-year-old Russian had to contend with a spirited fightback from Ymer before winning in two hours and 11 minutes to bring a semi-final meeting with Germany on Saturday one step closer.
Rublev raced through the first set in 26 minutes, converting two of three break points. However, he found it harder in the second, being broken by the Swede when serving for the match before Ymer won four games in a row to level the score.
The 25-year-old Ymer, ranked 171st in the world, carried that momentum into the third set while Rublev grew visibly frustrated.
The Russian failed to convert seven break point opportunities but did prevail in the tiebreaker to seal the win for his country.
Both teams are competing for the last remaining spot in the semi-finals, against Germany who beat Britain on Wednesday. The second match of the tie is Daniil Medvedev against Mikael Ymer before Aslan Karatsev and Rublev face Andre Goransson and Robert Lindstedt in the doubles.
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge, Editing by Ed Osmond)