MOSCOW, September 16 (RIA Novosti)
Russia's men were eliminated from the elite group of tennis-playing nations for the first time on Sunday, falling to a 3-0 defeat to Brazil in their Davis Cup World Group playoff.
Russia's lowest-ranked team in decades put in a lackluster performance on the clay courts of San Jose do Rio Preto, with Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Teymuraz Gabashvili losing the decisive doubles in straight sets to Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares, 7-5, 6-2, 7-6(7).
"Today we've completed the work we started a few years ago, returning to the World Group," Soares, a doubles specialist, told Globo.com.
"We've gone through some hard times, but now we're positive," he said.
Russia, a two-time winner and three-time runner-up, was already two games down going into the doubles after Igor Andreev and Gabashvili lost their opening singles matches.
Andreev, the world No. 96, retired with a shoulder injury after losing the first two sets 6-2, 6-1 to Rogerio Dutra Silva, ranked 12 places below the Russian on Friday.
Brazil’s 41st-ranked team leader Thomaz Bellucci faced stiffer resistance at times from world No. 163 Gabashvili in Friday's second rubber, but eventually dispatched him 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 7-6(4).
With the victory Brazil returns to the World Group for the first time since 2003, when the team included former world No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten.
Russia was forced to defend its status in the World Group after a surprise 3-2 defeat to Austria in September.
The Brazilians, meanwhile, earned the chance for promotion from Group I with a 4-1 defeat of Colombia.
Russia has been ever-present in the Davis Cup World Group since 1993, when it first competed as an independent nation.
For the Brazil tie, captain Shamil Tarpishchev overlooked the country's No. 1 player Mikhail Youzhny.
Youzhny, ranked 29, recorded a famous comeback win over Paul-Henri Mathieu in Paris to snatch a 3-2 victory for Russia in the 2002 final.
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