MOSCOW -- Marat Safin and Dmitry Tursunov beat Argentina's David Nalbandian and Agustin Calleri, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, yesterday to put Russia within one victory of its second Davis Cup title.
The win gave Russia a 2-1 advantage heading into today's matches.
Russia captain Shamil Tarpishchev brought in Safin to replace Mikhail Youzhny for the doubles, surprising given Safin's disappointment with the synthetic indoor carpet at Olympic Stadium, which he blamed for his straight-set loss to Nalbandian Friday.
He said the court was still "uncomfortable" for him, but that it wasn't such a factor in doubles because less movement is required.
"I knew from the beginning of the week that I wanted to play all three days," Safin said. "I wouldn't have taken no for an answer."
Nikolay Davydenko had earlier put Russia ahead by beating Juan Ignacio Chela.
Tursunov and Safin conceded only one point in their first-set service games and broke their struggling opponents in the fourth game.
Nalbandian opened the fourth game with a double fault and lost at love to put Russia up, 3-1, in the second set, an advantage that was too much to overcome. The Russians opened the third set with a break and continued to dominate until Tursunov served out the match, which lasted 1 hour 38 minutes.
"We didn't want to stay out there too long and let them get in the match," said Tursunov, who had eight of Russia's 11 aces. "Marat and I agreed that we would simply play our game and let them make mistakes, and that's what they did throughout the match."
The loss was a first in doubles this season for Nalbandian, who is scheduled to play Davydenko in today's first reverse singles match. Safin is set to face Chela in the second match, although substitutions can be made up to an hour before the match.
In reverse singles, players swap opponents from the first-day singles matches.
"At the beginning we couldn't make any returns, we didn't play many points when they served -- and they returned well and gained confidence," Nalbandian said. "That was tough."
Russia is seeking its first Davis Cup title at home, after beating France in Paris in 2002. Argentina has never won the trophy.