Canada leads over Belarus

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

The Canadians claimed Belarus was stung by a legitimate call.

The Belarusians didn't exactly feel the same way.

Whatever the case, Canada is up 2-1 in its best-of-five Davis Cup World Group playoff after a controversial ruling went against favoured Belarus in a doubles victory for the home side yesterday at the Rexall Centre at York University

A hindrance call against Max Mirnyi of Belarus, who was arguing in the midst of a key point in a fourth-set tiebreaker when he felt Canadian Frederic Niemeyer should have been charged with a double hit on a volley, ended up being a turning point. Canada's team of Niemeyer and Daniel Nestor was awarded the point -- a mini-break -- and went up 2-0 against Mirnyi and Vladimir Voltchkov. Canada eventually won the tiebreaker 8-6 on a Voltchkov double fault on Canada's fifth match point, giving Nestor and Niemeyer a 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (8) victory.

"We hope it will go our way (today in the two singles matches) because I think you guys used your luck already in a very, very strong way," Voltchkov said after Nestor and Niemeyer improved to 7-0 as a team in Davis Cup play.

Mirnyi, who had a long argument with chair umpire Jaime Chavez and referee Brian Early after the call and then had a heated debate with Early for three minutes after the match, wouldn't talk about the ruling with the media. But the Canadians didn't mind.

"Mirnyi was saying, 'No, no, no, no, stop the point, it's a double hit,' " Canada captain Martin Laurendeau said. "You can't do that, you've got to keep playing. Right away, the umpire said hindrance, before the point was over ... He was arguing he was talking to his partner saying, 'Leave the ball, it was going to out,' and he was saying, 'I can talk to my partner during the point.' But the umpire wasn't fooled."

The partisan crowd of about 2,500 was confused because the point continued, with Niemeyer eventually hitting it into the net. But the umpire already had made his call.

"They had their chances, we had ours," Mirnyi said. "It was a long match, 3 1/2 hours worth, and you can't really boil it down to one point."

Canada, meanwhile, simply needs a split today to advance to the elite 16-team World Group next year. But it will be an underdog in both matches.

The 188th-ranked Frank Dancevic meets No. 27 Mirnyi in a tough opener.

Then, with Nestor pulled because of a nagging hip injury, No. 193 Niemeyer will get the call against No. 185 Voltchkov.

"You play tennis to play those big moments," Niemeyer said. "I have maybe a chance to do it if Frank doesn't close it out."


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