Davis Cup: Canada pulls even with Japan
Dancevic downs Soeda 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-1 in Tokyo
Canada was 1-1 after Friday's opening day of play in a Davis Cup tie against Japan.
In the opener of the World Group first-round series, world No. 18 Kei Nishikori defeated Peter Polansky of Thornhill, Ont., in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Polansky, who is ranked 135th in the world in men's singles, had replaced Milos Raonic on Canada's Davis Cup team after Raonic pulled out a left foot injury on Thursday.
But Canada pulled even in the second match when Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., a 29-year-old veteran of 19 Davis Cup ties, defeated Go Soeda 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-1.
"It's 1-1 and both No.1 players did their job," said Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau. "It's a big point for us especially after we lost Milos so we are happy with today. We always like to savour the win a little bit but then we will regroup and focus on doubles tomorrow which is always a critical point in the tie."
Tennis Canada said Dancevic will replace Vasek Pospisil, and will team with Daniel Nestor in Saturday's Davis Cup World Group first round match against Japan.
Friday's first set of the day was one of shifting momentum as Nishikori jumped out to a 2-0 lead but Polansky came back to win four straight games and go up a break. Nishikori then took the control back, claiming the next four games and the set. Nishikori increased his level even further in the second and third sets, running Polansky all over the court with his defensive play.
"I think we both played really well today and there weren't too many lapses of focus," said Polansky. "The difference was he played a bit better on some of the bigger points. He converted more break points than I did and we had a lot of long rallies which he did better on as well."
In the second match, Soeda went up a quick break but Dancevic won the final five games of the first set to take the early lead. The second set was evenly matched as both players held serve through to a tiebreak where Dancevic fed off the small but noisy Canadian crowd to up his game. Dancevic carried that dominance into the third to close it out and give Canada a much needed point.
"I was really happy with my performance today," said Dancevic. "He started off really well and it made me focus more to get back into it. As the match went on I got more and more confidence and was able to finish really strong. The Canadian crowd was great and they really motivated me and kept me in the zone today. The team and bench also got behind me and that little bit of extra emotion to get going again makes a difference."
The winner of the best-of-five tie will move on to the quarter-finals in April versus the winner of the first-round tie between Czech Republic and the Netherlands. The losing team will have to play a World Group playoff tie in September to retain their spot in the top level of the competition.
Germany takes lead over Spain
Philipp Kohlschreiber defeated Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 to give Germany a 1-0 lead in their first-round Davis Cup World Group tie on Friday.
Kohlschreiber, the world No. 27, attacked from the start and won five games in a row to take the opening set in 26 minutes. Bautista Agut, who was making his Davis Cup debut, failed to earn a single break point as Kohlschreiber won the match in 1 hour, 43 minutes.
Later, Spanish No. 1 Feliciano Lopez was hoping to level the tie against Florian Mayer. Lopez had a 3-2 record over Mayer from their head-to-heads.
Germany is looking for its first victory over Spain 1994.
The winner was to play France or Australia in the quarter-finals in April.
Netherlands up on Czech Republic
Robin Haase rallied on Friday to beat Radek Stepanek in five sets and give the Netherlands a 1-0 lead over defending champion Czech Republic in the first round of the Davis Cup World Group.
The 46th-ranked Haase won the hard fought contest 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1 in 3 hours and 39 minutes on an indoor hard court at CEZ Arena.
Haase broke Stepanek for a 3-1 lead in the final set and did the same in the sixth game before serving out, converting his first match-point with a forehand winner.
Australian Open semifinalist Tomas Berdych was scheduled to play Igor Sijsling in the second opening singles later Friday.
The winner of the best-of-five series will face either Canada or Japan in the quarter-finals in April.
Switzerland takes 1-0 lead on Serbia
Returning to Davis Cup tennis, Roger Federer cruised past Ilija Bozoljac to give Switzerland a 1-0 lead over Serbia in their World Group first-round tie on Friday.
Federer won 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in less than two hours, and faced little challenge from Bozoljac, who served well but still was no match for the Swiss.
Bozoljac opened the match with two aces and had a set point while leading 5-2 in the second. But Federer held serve and broke to regain control over the set.
"Ilija was playing well, especially in the second set," Federer said. "It was a tough game, it could have been one set all."
Federer was making his first Davis Cup appearance since 2012.
Bozoljac said he was disappointed about his missed chance to win the second set.
"I lost focus and Federer stepped up the game," Bozoljac said.
Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka was facing Dusan Lajovic in the second singles match on Friday.
Switzerland is an overwhelming favourite against Serbia, last year's finalist and the 2010 Davis Cup champion, which is playing without Novak Djokovic and two other top players.
The second-ranked Djokovic decided to rest after losing to Wawrinka in the Australian Open quarter-finals, while Janko Tipsarevic is nursing a heel injury and Viktor Troicki is serving a 12-month doping ban for failing to appear at a test. That means Lajovic at No. 102 is Serbia's highest-ranked team member.
The winner plays Belgium or Kazakhstan in the quarter-finals in April.
Argentina, Italy square
Fabio Fognini defeated Juan Monaco in straight sets to rally Italy to a 1-1 draw with Argentina in their first round tie in the Davis Cup World Group on Friday.
Fognini won 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 after Argentina's Carlos Berlocq had beaten Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-0, 6-2, 6-1 on the outdoor clay surface.
Doubles are set for Saturday with reverse singles on Sunday to decide which team reaches the quarter-finals.
"I played really well," Fognini said. "Monaco never give in, but playing at the top was the key for me."
Argentina is playing without its top player Juan Martin del Potro, who has chosen to skip Davis Cup and focus on tour events.
Berlocq gave Argentina a perfect start.
"I felt like you have to feel in a Davis Cup match — with determination and dedication," Berlocq said. "When I was on the court and fans screamed 'gladiator,' it gave me a lift."
Argentina is a four-time runner-up in the Davis Cup but has yet to win tennis' top team event. Italy has won once.
The winner faces either Britain or the United States in the quarter-finals.
Murray helps give Great Britain lead over U.S.
James Ward won 10 of the last 11 games to take a stunning five-set victory against Sam Querrey and give Britain a 2-0 lead against the United States in the first round of the Davis Cup on Friday at Petco Park.
Ward was two games from losing the match when he began his rally that gave him a 1-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory. With dusk approaching and the lights on at the downtown baseball park, Ward won the match with an overhand smash that brought his teammates to their feet in celebration.
Ward's victory in 3 hours, 11 minutes, followed Wimbledon champion Andy Murray's easy straight-set victory against Donald Young on the temporary red clay court in left field at the home of the San Diego Padres.
Britain can clinch the match on Saturday if it wins the doubles match. Murray and Colin Fleming are scheduled to face Bob and Mike Bryan.
Querrey, the United States' No. 1 singles player in this tournament, had a 4-2 lead in the fourth set after winning the sixth game at love. But Ward rallied to win the next four games and the set to force a deciding fifth set. He jumped to a 4-0 lead in the fifth set before Querrey broke serve with a bleeder over the net to pull to 4-1. Ward then closed out the match.
Murray overwhelmed Young in 1:38 in the opener of the World Group match.
Murray was barely challenged by Young. The two-time Grand Slam winner took leads of 5-0 in the first set and 5-1 in the second set.
Young never broke serve but took the sixth game of the third set to four deuces before the British star had an ace and then won when Young netted a backhand.
France takes commanding lead over Australia
Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga both won in straight sets to give France a commanding 2-0 lead against Australia in their first-round Davis Cup tie on Friday.
The ninth-ranked Gasquet had little trouble beating teenager Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-2, and the 10th-ranked Tsonga followed up just as emphatically to dispatch Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (2) and improve to 4-0 in head-to-heads against the former two-time Grand Slam champion.
"They were two very good matches," France captain Arnaud Clement said. "They did what they had to do and played the right way."
Gael Monfils is scheduled to play alongside doubles specialist Julien Benneteau against Hewitt and Chris Guccione in Saturday's doubles, where a win will seal France's place in the quarter-finals against Spain or Germany in April.