MOSCOW, Sep 21 (Reuters) Igor Andreev trounced Tommy Haas 6-2 6-2 6-2 in the opening singles to give holders Russia a 1-0 lead in their Davis Cup semi-final against Germany today.
Russia captain Shamil Tarpishchev picked claycourt specialist Andreev over higher-ranked Mikail Youzhny and Dmitry Tursunov for the singles in the three-day tie on clay and he repaid his captain with a great display of power tennis.
World number four Nikolay Davydenko was facing Germany number two Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second singles rubber later today.
Andreev, who reached the French Open quarter-finals this year, broke the world number 11 three times in his first four service games to secure the opening set in 33 minutes.
The pattern continued in the second, Haas losing his serve in the third, fifth and seventh games to hand the 37th-ranked Russian a two-set lead.
Andreev broke the German twice more in the third set to record an emphatic victory after just over two hours.
''I expected it to be a bit more tougher, to be honest,'' said the 24-year-old Muscovite, who has battled back to the top of his game following a serious knee injury in April 2004.
''But I felt really confident. I never played him before and I wanted to get a good start to set the tone for the whole match.
''I used my chances well to break him in the first few games and it gave me even more confidence,'' added Andreev, who converted eight of the 14 break opportunities against Haas, who was only successful on two of his eight chances.
Haas, 29, said it was an uphill battle from the start.
''I didn't get a good start and it was hard for me to get back in the match,'' said German, who also had to overcome a series of injuries, including breaks to both ankles, in the last two years.
''The second set could have been different if I won some key points. Then it became a challenge and I just came up short.'' REUTERS BJR RN1837