Davis Cup holders the Czech Republic powered their way to a 5-0 quarter-final whitewash of Japan after yesterday’s reverse singles matches.
Chasing their third straight title, the Czech Republic secured a fifth semi-final spot in six years after winning the doubles on Saturday to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in Tokyo.
Lukas Rosol and Jiri Vesely showed no mercy in yesterday’s dead singles rubbers and the champs now face a trip to either France or Germany in September’s semi-finals.
Rosol beat Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 before left-hander Vesely swept past Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-4 for his first Davis Cup win in three attempts, in matches reduced to best-of-three with the results now academic.
Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil said his team are capable of capturing a first hat-trick of titles since the US won their third of five in a row in 1970.
“We have won the trophy the last two years so we have confidence,” he said after the visitors triumphed despite being without the services of Tomas Berdych.
“First we will see if Tomas can play for us. We have five months to prepare and we will see what happens after Wimbledon and the US Open,” Navratil added.
Japan’s hopes were jolted when Kei Nishikori, who lead them into their first quarter-final under the modern format, pulled out injured.
Even without world No. 5 Berdych, who opted not to play, the Czech side had too much firepower and guile for Japan.
“A lot of it came down to experience,” said world No. 40 Rosol, who struggled for rhythm against the 268th-ranked Uchiyama.
Japan captain Minoru Ueda paid tribute to the Czech Republic’s commanding performance.
“They showed why they’re the champions,” he said.
Radek Stepanek, who won the deciding rubber for the Czechs in the last two finals, beat Tatsuma Ito in four sets, while Rosol beat Daniel in five on day one before the Czech duo finished the job.
Going into yesterday’s reverse singles, France and Switzerland were both down 2-1.
Germany entered their quarter-final without their top three players, but Tobias Kamke and Peter Gojowczyk still won their opening singles matches to give the visitors a 2-0 lead against France.
However, Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra beat Andre Begemann and Kamke 6-1, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5 on Saturday, before Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Tobias Kamke 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to help France level at 2-2 yesterday with one tie left.
Italy and Great Britain were also level on 2-2 when rain postponed the final quarter-final singles rubber between Andreas Seppi and James Ward yesterday.
Ward had to beat Seppi if Britain were to reach the semis after Italian No. 1 Fabio Fognini earlier stunned Andy Murray 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.