SAO PAULO (AP) — Thomaz Bellucci rallied from two sets down and saved a match point in a 3-6, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Pablo Andujar on Friday that helped Brazil level the Davis Cup World Group playoff against Spain at 1-1.
Roberto Bautista Agut, Spain’s top player for the clay-court series in Brazil, beat the 201st-ranked Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-0, 6-1, 6-3 in the first match.
Bellucci, Brazil’s No. 1 player, saved a match point in the fourth set, then broke the 44th-ranked Andujar three times in the decisive set to close out the match in 4 hours and 2 minutes.
“It was a very difficult match emotionally,” Bellucci said. “I was nervous in the beginning but was able to overcome my nerves and played well to get the win. We are still alive, we have to keep fighting.”
The series will continue on Saturday when Brazil’s double’s specialists Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares face Marc Lopez and David Marrero. The reverse singles matches are scheduled for Sunday.
Spain is without its best two players, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer. Tommy Robredo, ranked No. 22, also isn’t playing in Brazil. The five-time Davis Cup champions are trying to avoid dropping out of the World Group for the first time since 1996. Spain’s latest title came in 2011.
“Spain has very good players and even without Rafa and David we are a good team,” Bautista Agut said. “Those of us who are here are prepared to help Spain advance.”
There was controversy after the 83rd-ranked Bellucci was denied a break following Andujar’s double fault at 2-2 in the fourth set. The chair umpire asked the point to be replayed because the crowd allegedly interfered by making noise when the Spaniard was serving. After loud jeers against the umpire and Andujar, Brazil captain Joao Zwetsch had to pick up a microphone and talk to the crowd, asking fans to keep quite during points.
The 15th-ranked Bautista Agut dominated from the start in the first match, beating Silva in 1 hour, 31 minutes at the Ibirapuera indoor arena. The Spaniard won 11 straight games before his opponent finally held his serve late in the second set.
Silva was a surprise choice by Zwetsch, who left the higher-ranked Joao Souza off the team. The Brazilian only challenged Bautista Agut in the third set, getting two service breaks before failing to hold his own serve in the final game.
It was his first match against Bautista Agut, who lost to Roger Federer in the fourth round of the U.S. Open.
The two nations last played in 1999 in Spain, when three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten led Brazil to victory. In six other meetings, the Spaniards won five.
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