PARIS (AFP) – Britain booked their place in the Davis Cup quarter-finals with a come-from-behind victory over the Czech Republic on Sunday (Nov 28), while Germany, Kazakhstan and Croatia also reached the last eight.
Dan Evans’ surprise 6-2, 7-5 loss to world number 143 Tomas Machac left Britain needing to fight back to secure a second straight win and take top spot in Group C. But Cameron Norrie overcame a second-set blip to see off Jiri Lehecka 6-1, 2-6, 6-1, before Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski teamed up to beat Machac and Jiri Vesely 6-4, 6-2 in Innsbruck.
“It’s great. Today was tough. A lot of people look at the rankings but it’s never like that,” British captain Leon Smith, whose side will next play Germany on Tuesday, told the BBC. “We’ve been underdogs and managed to get wins. The Czech team played well – very young team. Machac turned into a top 20 player overnight!”
The ties in Austria are being played behind closed doors due to new coronavirus restrictions in the country. France, after winning against the Czechs and losing to Britain, are out of the tournament.
Germany backed up their shock victory over Novak Djokovic’s Serbia by fighting back to edge out hosts Austria and go through as Group F winners.
Serbia had to settle for second place and must now wait to see if they progress as one of the two best runners-up. Dominik Koepfer lost 6-1, 7-5 to Jurij Rodionov to put the Germans in trouble, but Jan-Lennard Struff levelled the tie by cruising past Dennis Novak 7-5, 6-4.
Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz completed the job in the doubles, as they did against Djokovic and Serbia on Saturday, winning 6-3, 6-4 against Oliver Marach and Philipp Oswald.
Croatia just needed to win one rubber against Hungary to wrap up first place in Group D and the 242nd-ranked Nino Serdarusic did just that in the opening match against Fabian Marozsan in Turin.
His 6-4, 6-4 success helped avoid a nervy finish to the tie for the two-time winners, as Marin Cilic lost the second singles 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 to impressive Hungarian youngster Zsombor Piros.
Kazakhstan also moved into the knockout stage by downing 2019 runners-up Canada in Madrid. The tournament was postponed last year because of the Covid pandemic.
Kazakhstan, who beat Sweden on Saturday, emerged victorious again thanks to singles wins for Mikhail Kukushkin and Alexander Bublik, over Brayden Schnur and Vasek Pospisil respectively.
Bublik drew the ire of the Spanish crowd for delivering an underarm serve at 4-4 in the second set, but that only seemed to spur him on. “As one legend says, when you go to sleep guys, know that I won because of you,” he said to the crowd, referring to US Open champion Daniil Medvedev.
Later on Sunday, the Russian Tennis Federation, the favourites for the title, take on depleted reigning champions Spain in a winner-takes-all encounter.
Italy became the first team to make the quarters on Saturday and will face Croatia in Turin on Monday.