Britain, Austria reach Davis Cup world group

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BELGRADE, Sep 23 (Reuters) Britain and Austria booked their places in the next year's World Group after taking winning 3-0 leads in their Davis Cup playoff ties.

Tim Henman and Jamie Murray recovered from a poor start to beat Croatia's Marin Cilic and Lovro Zovko 4-6 6-4 7-6 7-5 yesterday at Wimbledon to put Britain in the top flight for the first time since 2003.

Henman got a rapturous send off from the home crowd after playing the last match of his career before retiring.

''I couldn't have written a better script,'' Henman, 33, told the 11,400 fans packed into Wimbledon's Court One.

''I've always loved representing my country and playing at Wimbledon, and to finish my career doing both is a dream come true.

''It's been an amazing weekend, the crowd have been fantastic and I'll cherish these memories for the rest of my life.'' In Innsbruck, Julian Knowle and Juergen Melzer brushed aside former French Open winner Gustavo Kuerten and Andre Sa 6-1 6-1 6-4 to hand Austria an unbeatable 3-0 lead over Brazil.

Czech Republic claimed a 2-1 lead over Switzerland in Prague after Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek staged a remarkable comeback to beat Roger Federer and Yves Allegro 3-6 5-7 7-6 6-4 6-4.

BIGGEST WIN If Switzerland fail to win both of Sunday's rubbers, they will drop out of the World Group for the first time since 1994.

Serbia were also 2-1 up against Australia in Belgrade after Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic outgunned Lleyton Hewitt and Paul Hanley 3-6 6-4 6-3 6-2.

''I can't describe how I feel right now and this is surely the biggest doubles win of my career,'' Djokovic said.

''We want the same kind of atmosphere for the reverse singles today to finish off the job.'' Japan took a 2-1 lead over Romania in Osaka while South Korea were ahead of Slovakia by the same score in Bratislava after Lee Hyung-taik and Im Kyu-tae raced to a 6-0 6-3 6-2 victory against Lukas Lacko and Michal Mertinak.

Israel had a 2-1 advantage over Chile at home and Peru also held the same advantage over Belarus in Lima.

REUTERS BJR AS0948

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