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Novak Claims Victory For Austria In Finland Thriller

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Dennis Novak booked Austria’s place in the 2020 Davis Cup qualifiers on Saturday, coming from a set down to defeat Harri Heliovaara 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) and complete a 3-2 victory in Espoo, Finland.

The 26-year-old, who was ruled out of action on Friday due to illness, landed 14 aces and broke serve on three occasions to overcome the World No. 716 in two hours and 18 minutes. Novak was needed for a deciding fifth rubber after the two nations split the third and fourth matches of the tie earlier in the day.

Oliver Marach and Jurgen Melzer earned Austria a 2-1 advantage with a 7-6(5), 6-2 victory against Henri Kontinen and Emil Ruusuvuori, allowing World No. 5 Dominic Thiem the opportunity to clinch the tie. But Thiem’s nine-match Davis Cup singles winning streak was brought to an end by World No. 163 Ruusuvuori, who cruised past the 14-time tour-level titlist 6-3, 6-2 to earn his second straight-sets win of the tie.

Slovakia will join Austria in the 2020 Davis Cup qualifiers after back-to-back wins against Switzerland confirmed a 3-1 result for the home nation in Bratislava. Filip Polasek and Igor Zelenay earned the hosts a 2-1 lead with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph against Jerome Kym and Henri Laaksonen, before Norbert Gombos charged to a 51-minute 6-1, 6-1 win against Henri Laaksonen.

Sweden and Belarus also secured wins, with the home sides overcoming Israel and Portugal, respectively. Brazil became the first nation from Americas Group I to advance, beating Barbados 3-1, while Uzbekistan claimed the first available spot from Asia/Oceania Group I after edging Lebanon 3-2.

Davis Cup Group I and Group II ties are promotion and relegation ties for 2020. Group I victors this week will filter into 2020 Davis Cup qualifiers in February. They do not affect the 2019 Davis Cup Finals, which already features 16 teams.

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