Marat Safin defeated Andy Roddick 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) to give Russia a 1-0 lead over the US after the opening singles of the Davis Cup semifinal yesterday.
Russia's Mikhail Youzhny was scheduled to play James Blake in the day's second singles match on the Olympic stadium's clay court.
Roddick and Safin had played five times before -- all on hard courts -- with the American winning the last three in 2004.
Roddick opened strongly, allowing Safin only one point in his first three service games. But in the seventh game, Safin earned two break points with a backhand passing shot, and converted on the first. The Russian saved a break point in the next game before holding to close out the set.
Roddick tried to change tactics in the second set and play serve-and-volley, but it didn't make much difference.
Roddick saved three break points in the third game of the second set and one more in the fifth before Safin ended the match's longest rally -- 26 shots -- with a lob to break serve.
Russia, which has never beaten the US, is unbeaten at home since losing that final and beat France in 2002 for its only title.
The winner will face either Australia or Argentina in the final in December.