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Sunday, 1 December, 2002, 20:19 GMT
Russia claim Davis Cup thriller
Mikhail Youzhny
Youzhny came from two sets down to win
M Youzhny bt P-H Mathieu 3-6 2-6 6-3 7-5 6-3
Overall score: Russia bt France 3-2

Mikhail Youzhny mounted an incredible fightback to clinch the Davis Cup for Russia for the first time in their history.

The Russians became the first team since 1964 to overturn a 2-1 deficit on the final day, as first Marat Safin defeated Sebastien Grosjean, and then Youzhny came from two sets down to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu.

Paul-Henri Mathieu
Mathieu gave everything he had
Twenty year old Youzhny was preferred to an exhausted Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who had suffered two sapping defeats on the first two days.

But when Mathieu led by two sets buoyed by a raucous Paris crowd, the Russian gamble seemed to have gone wrong.

The players had traded early breaks before Mathieu profited from some nervous play from his opponent to secure the first set.

And he kept his foot on the pedal, reeling off seven games in a row as he then secured the second set 6-2.

Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin witnessed the drama
But the tide turned in the third set after a string of breaks as a third break in the set gave Youzhny a foothold.

The Russian then broke at the start of the fourth but Mathieu immediately struck back.

The next few games saw tennis that was at times tense, at times brilliant, as both players wrestled for the crucial break.

After another exchange of breaks, Youzhny broke once more and served out to take the match to a decider.

And the momentum was with the Russian who broke early in the fifth set.

Still Mathieu had one last break within him to level the match once more.

But Youzhny broke again to lead 4-3, and held his nerve to serve out for a famous victory.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Jonathan Overand
"Youzhny overcame his nerves and was inspired"
Russia's Marat Safin
"It's the best feeling"
Russia's Mikhail Youzhny
"I didn't play my best tennis at first"

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