Spain beat Croatia to advance to the last eight of the Davis Cup finals while Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray helped Serbia and Great Britain to wins.
World No.1 Rafael Nadal sealed top spot in Group B for Spain as he crushed Croatia’s Borna Gojo 6-4 6-3 to give his side an unassailable 2-0 lead after Roberto Bautista Agut had beaten Nikola Mektic 6-1 6-3.
Defeat ended a miserable few days at La Caja Magica for reigning champions Croatia, who without talisman Marin Cilic are out of contention with two losses.
Also progressing to the quarterfinals was Australia, who topped Group D after Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur both won their singles rubbers in straight sets over Steve Darcis and David Goffin respectively.
Australia’s win over Belgium followed a day after the green-and-gold beat Colombia 3-0, setting up a quarterfinal battle with Canada.
The Canadian team, spearheaded by Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil, accounted for Italy and the United States to come out on top of Group F.
Meanwhile, Djokovic, who Nadal pipped to the year-end top ranking, helped get Serbia up and running with an easy win over Yoshihito Nishioka as they beat Japan 3-0 in Group A.
Serbia’s tie against France on Thursday will decide the winner of the group.
“With all respect to Japan, we always knew it was a big possibility that it might come down to France and Serbia,” Djokovic said.
Great Britain endured a tough opening day of their campaign though, as they scraped past the Netherlands 2-1 in a Group E tie that spanned nearly nine hours on court three.
Murray returned to Davis Cup action for the first time since 2016 and was pushed to the brink against 179th-ranked Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor, clawing back from a 4-1 deficit in the deciding set to win 6-7(7) 6-4 7-6(5).
The 32-year-old Murray, who returned to singles from hip surgery in, looked spent at the end of a brutal match as he took his record in Davis Cup singles rubbers to 31-3.
He later admitted he was not in the best physical shape.
“If you’re weighing four or five kilos more than you’re used to, that is probably going to affect how you feel moving around,” Murray said.
The Dutch hit back as Robin Haase recovered from a set down to beat Dan Evans but Britain emerged victorious as Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski beat Wesley Koolhof and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4 7-6(6), saving two set points in the second set.
Britain will face Kazakhstan on Thursday, with the winner moving through to the quarterfinals.
Wednesday became a late, late show with the US pairing of Jack Sock and Sam Querrey clinching victory at 4.04am local time over Italians Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini. As a result, the US beat Italy 2-1 to finish runners-up in Group F.
The tie began two hours late after Germany’s 3-0 Group C defeat of Argentina over-ran.
Inevitably after such a radical reform of the 119-year-old team event there have been glitches but the third day of competition produced some electric atmospheres.
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