USA, Russia struggling to avoid defeat in Davis Cup quarterfinals

ZAGREB: Davis Cup superpowers USA and Russia stood on the brink of elimination after Croatia and unheralded Israel swept to 2-0 leads in their respective quarterfinals.

The 32-time champions USA, missing injured Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick, lost both opening singles rubbers against 2005 winners Croatia in Porec after Ivo Karlovic fought back to defeat James Blake 6-7 (5-7) 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 7-5.

Marin Cilic then outlasted Mardy Fish in another five-setter winning 4-6 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-1 8-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 23 minutes.

The Americans are bidding to defeat Croatia for the first time, having lost to them in the first round in 2003 and 2005.

Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, Israel are on the verge of reaching the semi-finals for the first time when they opened up a 2-0 lead over two-time champions Russia.

Harel Levy and Dudi Sela stunned the 2002 and 2006 winners as Israel celebrated their first quarter-final appearance since 1987 in style.

World No.210 Levy gave the hosts the lead by beating world 24 Igor Andreev 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-2 before Sela, ranked No.33, saw off Mikhail Youzhny 3-6 6-1 6-0 7-5.

Israel can clinch their semi-final place if doubles team Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich can see off Marat Safin and Igor Kunitsyn.