Spain Completes Comeback For Davis Cup QF Berth
CROATIA 2, SPAIN 3
Venue: Gradski Vrt Hall, Osijek, Croatia (hard - indoor)
No Rafael Nadal, no David Ferrer, no problem for Spain. The European nation overcame a 1-2 deficit to advance to the Davis Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2012. Roberto Bautista Agut survived Franko Skugor 6-1, 6-7(4), 6-3, 7-6(6) in the fourth rubber, followed by a 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-4 victory for Pablo Carreno Busta over Nikola Mektic in the decider.
"I felt a lot of pressure closing out the match but I kept going," said Bautista Agut. "It was a tough tie-break but I closed it. It's much more difficult in the Davis Cup. The crowd is supporting them a lot, but these are good things to learn from and I'm happy to give the second point to Spain."
Spain is looking to complete its ascent back to Davis Cup prominence after being relegated to Group I in 2014. The Conchita Martinez-led squad will face Serbia in April for a spot in the semis.
The loss for Croatia eliminates the 2016 finalists, who were without the services of Marin Cilic, Borna Coric, Ivo Karlovic and Ivan Dodig. It marks the fourth time in the last five years that the runners-up are defeated in the first round of the subsequent competition. Last year, the Croatians defeated 2015 finalists Belgium in the opening weekend.
ARGENTINA 2, ITALY 2
Venue: Parque Sarmiento, Buenos Aires, Argentina (clay)
Defending champion Argentina is one match away from completing a historic comeback from 0-2 down after Carlos Berlocq ousted Paolo Lorenzi 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in Sunday's Davis Cup reverse singles. The match included a long rain delay in the fourth set, but Berlocq regrouped to take the match in four hours and 14 minutes.
The first-round tie is a rematch of a 2016 quarter-final clash, which saw the Argentines advance 3-1. They are hoping to avoid becoming the second Davis Cup champion in the past three years (Switzerland, 2015) to bow out in the first round in the subsequent edition.
AUSTRALIA 4, CZECH REPUBLIC 1
Venue: Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, Melbourne, AUS (hard - outdoor)
Australia finished off a 4-1 victory over the Czech Republic following Sunday's reverse singles. Sam Groth was defeated by Jiri Vesely in the fourth rubber 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, followed by World No. 65 Jordan Thompson downing Jan Satral 7-6(5), 6-2 to complete the tie. The Aussies will host the United States in the quarter-finals.
JAPAN 1, FRANCE 4
Venue: Ariake Colosseum, Tokyo, JPN (hard - indoor)
France completed a dominant 4-1 victory over host Japan, surging into the Davis Cup quarter-finals where they will next face either Great Britain or Canada. Nicolas Mahut opened Sunday's reverse singles with victory over Yoshihito Nishioka, when the Japanese star retired trailing 6-1, 1-1 due to a left wrist injury. The home nation registered their lone point of the tie when Yasutaka Uchiyama downed Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 6-4.