Davis Cup: Canada eliminated by Japan
Frank Dancevic forced to retire in 2nd set
Frank Dancevic wanted to give it his all in Canada's do-or-die singles match against Japan's Kei Nishikori at the Davis Cup on Sunday.
But unfortunately for the Niagara Falls, Ont., native, a pulled muscle wouldn't allow him to go past the second set.
Japan sealed its victory over Canada in the first-round Davis Cup tie after Nishikori downed an ailing Dancevic 6-2, 1-0. Later Sunday, Peter Polansky of Thornhill, Ont., lost to Go Soeda in the fifth match 6-1, 6-4 to increase Japan's margin to 4-1.
"Kei came out playing really well today and once I pulled a stomach muscle early in the second set there was no way I could stay with him when I could only serve at 20 per cent..." Dancevic said.
"Under other circumstances I probably wouldn't have even stepped on the court with the way I was feeling, but this is Davis Cup and I wanted to give it all I had and push to the limit because this situation means a lot to me."
Dancevic, ranked 119th in men's singles, held his serve during the first game, but World No. 18 Nishikori went on to break twice and win the next five games to eventually take the set.
After being broken to start the second set, Dancevic took a medical timeout and was forced to retire, handing the match and the tie to Japan.
Canada will play a World Group playoff in September in hopes of keeping its spot in the upper echelon of the competition. Japan, meanwhile, will face the winner of a tie between the Czech Republic and the Netherlands in the Davis Cup quarter-finals.
The Canadian squad was missing its top two singles players at the tournament as both No. 11 Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., and No. 25 Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver were unable to recover from injuries in time to play. Polansky, who lost Canada's first singles match to Nishikori on Friday, replaced Raonic.
Dancevic stepped in for Pospisil in the doubles match with Daniel Nestor on Saturday. The Canadian duo, who hadn't played together in three years, lost to Nishikori and Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4.
"We just battled with so many things this week and nothing really went our way when it came to injuries," said Canadian team captain Martin Laurendeau. "It's obviously disappointing but you can't blame these guys. They gave their all.
"... Frank and Peter stepped in and left everything on the court every time they went out there. With what we accomplished last year [reaching the semifinal] we didn't want to take a step back like this but hopefully everyone gets healthy and has a strong season and we can fight hard to keep our spot in September."
Czech Republic on to quarters
Defending champion Czech Republic reached the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup on Sunday after Tomas Berdych won the first reverse singles to clinch the first-round tie 3-1.
Berdych, an Australian Open semifinalist, dispatched Thiemo de Bakker 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 on an indoor hard court at CEZ Arena.
Berdych was never threatened and converted his first match point with a forehand winner.
Seeking their third straight Davis Cup title, the Czechs won the 10th consecutive Davis Cup series. They will travel for the April 4-6 quarterfinal to Japan, which beat Canada 4-1 in another first-round tie.
The result of the second reverse singles match cannot change the overall Czech victory in the best-of-five series.
Germany ousts Spain
Daniel Brands defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (5), 6-4 to wrap up a 4-1 win for Germany over Spain in their Davis Cup World Group first round tie on Sunday.
Brands was the only German player available to play Sunday, after Tommy Haas and Philipp Kohlschreiber won their doubles match Saturday for an unassailable 3-0 lead.
Kohlschreiber pulled out of his reverse singles match against Spanish No. 1 Feliciano Lopez, while Haas was also unavailable. Florian Meyer had a shoulder injury.
German captain Carsten Arriens was whistled and heckled by the home crowd when he announced there would only be one match.
Germany, which last won the trophy in 1993, plays France in the quarter-finals in April, while five-time champion Spain faces a World Group playoff in September.
France routs Australia
Gael Monfils completed France's 5-0 rout of Australia in the first round of the Davis Cup by defeating Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (5), 6-4 Sunday.
Monfils dropped serve twice but broke Kyrgios three times, after Julien Benneteau cruised past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-1 in Sunday's first reverse singles match.
Benneteau broke Kokkinakis four times and did not face a single break point, hitting 30 winners to 14 for his opponent.
France secured a spot in the quarter-finals of the competition when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet defeated Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-5 in Saturday's doubles to hand the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead.
On Friday, Tsonga eased past Hewitt 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (2), and Gasquet routed Kyrgios 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-2.
France will face Germany in the quarterfinals while Australia will compete in the playoffs to stay in the World Group.
Despite the defeat, Australia still holds a 10-5 record against France in the competition.
Switzerland triumphs over Serbia
Dusan Lajovic and Filip Krajinovic won the reverse singles Sunday to cushion Switzerland's triumph over Serbia to 3-2 in their Davis Cup first round World Group tie.
Switzerland had already secured the match with its doubles victory on Saturday. On Friday, Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka both won their singles matches and pulled out of the reverse singles.
Lajovic beat Michael Lammer 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to win Serbia's first point of the match. The 102nd-ranked Lajovic is Serbia's top player in the absence of Novak Djokovic, Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki.
"I am glad I won at least this one point for Serbia," said Lajovic, who was beaten by Wawrinka on Friday.
Filip Krajinovic beat Marco Chiudinelli 6-4, 6-4.
Serbia's coach Bogdan Obradovic expressed hope that Serbia's top players will return to the team "and we will once again be what we truly are — a leading team in the Davis Cup."
Switzerland will face Kazakhstan in the quarter-finals in April, while Serbia dropped to the playoffs in September.
Italy moves on to quarters
Italy reached the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup on Sunday when Fabio Fognini defeated Carlos Berlocq of Argentina to give Italy an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
Fognini defeated Berlocq 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in 3 hours, 38 minutes.
It's Italy's first victory over Argentina in Davis Cup play, and the loss ended Argentina's 12-year streak of reaching the quarterfinals.
Italy took control on Saturday when doubles pair Fognini and Simone Bolelli defeated Argentina's Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos.