Andreev powers Russia into Davis Cup final

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MOSCOW, Sep 23 (Reuters) Igor Andreev powered Russia to their second successive Davis Cup final by beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 3-6 6-0 6-3 in the fifth and deciding rubber today, giving the champions a 3-2 win over Germany.

In the final, Russia will face the United States after they beat Sweden in the other semi-final in Gothenburg.

Earlier, world number 17 Mikhail Youzhny beat 206th-ranked Philipp Petzschner 6-4 6-4 3-6 6-3 in the first reverse singles to pull the home team level at 2-2.

It was Russia's 14th consecutive home victory, dating back to the 1995 final when they lost to the US.

''It's a great feeling to get the winning point in front of the home crowd,'' said Andreev after clinching the semi-final tie on his fourth match point after two hours 39 minutes.

''I had the same feeling once before and to do it again it's unbelievable,'' added the 24-year-old Muscovite, who clinched the 2005 quarter-final for Russia against France 3-2 on the same clay court by beating Paul-Henri Mathieu in the decider.

Kohlschreiber double-faulted on break point in the eighth game as he lost the first set but broke the Russian in the sixth game of the second with a powerful backhand down the line on his way to levelling the contest.

But the German, who beat world number four Nikolay Davydenko in a tough five-setter on Friday to give the visitors their first point in the tie, began to tire as the match wore on.

Claycourt specialist Andreev, who trounced Germany number one Tommy Haas in straight sets in Friday's opener, raced through the third in 37 minutes.

He then secured the decisive break in the eighth game of the fourth set before serving out the match to bring the home crowd to their feet.

KOHLSCHREIBER HEARTBROKEN Kohlschreiber, who has now lost all five of his matches against Andreev, was heartbroken.

''I tried my best, maybe even a little bit too much but he played really well,'' he said.

Germany captain Patrik Kuhnen was stoic in the defeat.

''I wasn't naive and even when we were up 2-1 I knew it was going to be tough to win both singles,'' he said.

Youzhny, Russia's 2002 Davis Cup hero, kept his team's hopes alive by beating Petzschner after replacing injured Davydenko.

The Germans had the edge going into the final day after Alexander Waske and Petzschner beat Youzhny and Dmitry Tursunov in Saturday's doubles despite Waske suffering an elbow injury.

''I was under a lot of pressure but you feel pressure every time you play for your country,'' said Youzhny, who led Russia to their first title five years' ago by winning the decisive rubber against France's Mathieu in the Paris final.

''I didn't play my best today but good enough to win.'' Petzschner, 23, said he felt very nervous playing his first singles match in the Davis Cup in place of Haas.

''I was told this morning that I had to play,'' he said.

''Tommy was feeling sick from last night and Alex (Waske) was injured so I was the only one left. I was really nervous before the match but I fought and gave everything I had. It just wasn't enough.'' REUTERS AB PM0030

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