Czechs, Japan into Davis Cup last eight
By Nick Reeves, AFP Tuesday, February 4, 2014, 8:15 am TWN
PARIS--The Czech Republic kept their Davis Cup three-peat bid on track while Japan reached the World Group quarter-finals for the first time on Sunday as first round ties concluded.
Great Britain notched their first World Group win since 1986 as Andy Murray beat Sam Querrey in San Diego to give the Brits a 3-1 victory over the United States.
Britain next face Italy, who downed Argentina in Mar del Plata thanks to Fabio Fognini's third victory in as many days.
In Ostrava, the Czech Republic held the upper hand 2-1 going into the reverse singles against the Netherlands and Tomas Berdych bagged the all-important third point with a three-set win over lowly ranked Thiemo de Bakker.
The Dutch claimed the final dead rubber when Igor Sijsling saw off Lukas Rosol giving the Czechs a 3-2 victory and a last eight date with Japan, who beat Canada in Tokyo.
There was an air of anti-climax about Japan's feat after Canada's Frank Dancevic retired injured from his rubber with Kei Nishikori.
Go Soeda thrashed Peter Polansky 6-1, 6-4 in the dead final rubber to complete a 4-1 rout over last year's semi-finalists.
"It's a bit hard being overjoyed to win like that but to make history is unbelievable," Nishikori, the world number 18, reflected.
The Czechs may have to travel to Tokyo without their star player, world number seven Berdych.
"I've won the salad bowl twice, I've given the team a lot over the past 10, 11 years. I'd say a rest would be fully deserved," he had warned earlier.
In California, where the United States hosted Britain on a clay court set up at Major League Baseball ground Petco Park, world number six Murray gained the crucial point with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (3/7), 6-1, 6-3 win over Querrey — the top US player in action after the late injury withdrawal of John Isner.
Querrey had been stunned on Friday by Britain's James Ward, who won 10 of the last 11 games in a remarkable five-set fight-back that helped the visitors take a 2-0 lead on the opening day on which Murray also crushed Davis Cup newcomer Donald Young.
After the crack doubles duo of Bob and Mike Bryan pulled back a point for the Americans on Saturday, Murray relished his chance to put the tie away.
"You want to try and contribute as much as possible in these weeks," Murray said. "James had a great win against Sam the first day to put us in that position and it was up to me today to try and close it out."
The final score stood at 3-1 after the fifth match was cancelled.
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