Sun, Apr 06, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Czech Republic wrap up quarter-final over Japan

Reuters

Czech Republic doubles pairing Radek Stepanek, left, and Lukas Rosol return the ball during their Davis Cup quarter-final tie against Japan in Tokyo yesterday. The Czech Republic won the match and the tie.

Photo: EPA

The Czech Republic wasted little time wrapping up their Davis Cup quarter-final tie against Japan after the defending champions eased to a straight-sets victory in the doubles rubber yesterday to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in Tokyo.

After battling to singles wins on Friday, Radek Stepanek and Lukas Rosol paired up for a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Tatsuma Ito and Yasutaka Uchiyama at the Ariake Coliseum to set up a last-four encounter against either Germany or France.

In a match that lasted 2 hours, 20 minutes, the Czech pairing won all three sets with a break of serve in the 10th game against the error-prone Japanese to remain on course for a third straight Davis Cup title and fourth overall.

Rosol was brought in as a substitute for Jiri Vesely by Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil yesterday morning and the move proved inspired with the world No. 40 exhibiting a strong serve and playing especially well from the baseline.

The Czech Republic are due to face the winner of the France, Germany tie in the semi-finals.

WAWRINKA BEATEN

AFP, PARIS

Roger Federer saved Stanislas Wawrinka’s blushes after the Australian Open champion suffered a shock defeat to unheralded Kazakh Andrey Golubev in the Davis Cup quarter-finals on Friday.

The world No. 3 was stunned 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) by 64th ranked Golubev as Kazakhstan took an early 1-0 lead over Switzerland in Geneva.

However, 17-time Grand Slam winner Federer then stormed to a straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win over Mikhail Kukushkin to level the tie.

Golubev’s victory, achieved in just under three-and-a-quarter hours, revived bad memories for Wawrinka, who lost his matches — a singles and a doubles rubber — in a 5-0 whitewash victory for Kazakhstan over Switzerland in Astana in 2010.

“I know you’re going to consult all the sports psychologists to find out why I lost to Golubev,” Wawrinka said. “It came down to a few points that made the difference, which he was able to play freely.”

An understated Golubev said after one of his biggest career wins: “It was a great match I think for me. The key was to try and be aggressive and not to give him too much time.”

“I think I did good,” he added.

Federer, the world No. 4, kept his cool to record a second straight-sets win over 56th-ranked Kukushkin in as many meetings, after having beaten the Kazakh in the first round of Wimbledon in 2011.

“It was important to stay calm,” Federer said.

“I was well concentrated, felt good in my legs and served well,” he added.

ITALY, BRITAIN

AFP, NAPLES, Italy

Britain’s Davis Cup quarter-final with Italy was in the balance on Friday when poor light halted play during the second rubber between Britain’s Andy Murray and Italy’s Andreas Seppi.

Hosts Italy earlier took a 1-0 lead in the World Group tie when national No. 1 Fabio Fognini beat James Ward, ranked 161 in the world, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Murray, who suffered a stomach bug on Thursday, battled to win the first set on the red clay of Tennis Club Napoli, but the Briton was pushed all the way in a closely-fought second set.

He had to save four set points on his way to eventually leveling at 5-5, after which officials halted play due to poor light.

The second set took it out of Murray, who was growing increasingly frustrated as a series of unforced errors — mostly backhand returns into the net — kept Seppi in the game.

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