Japan moved within a win of reaching the second round of the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 after Go Soeda outclassed Indonesia’s Wisnu Adi Nugroho on Friday.
World No. 67 Soeda dealt Nugroho two bagels in a 6-0, 6-0, 6-1 victory to give Japan a 2-0 lead going into Saturday’s doubles match. Tatsuma Ito beat Christopher Rungkat 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 earlier Friday at Ariake Tennis Forest Park.
The 84th-ranked Ito will partner with Yasutaka Uchiyama to face Elbert Sie and Ketut-Nesa Arta on Saturday for a place in the April 5-7 second round against either India or South Korea.
Should Japan get past the second round, it will qualify for the World Group playoffs in September. Last year, Japan was eliminated in the World Group playoffs by Israel.
Soeda didn’t concede a single game until the fifth game of the last set.
“Takuma did well to win the all-too-important first match for us,” Soeda said. “It didn’t matter who I was playing; I just knew I had to win today.”
“I wasn’t really trying to win every game. It just turned out that way. But I admit it would have made a great memory if I did manage to do it.”
“I won only one game,” said Nugroho, ranked 1,783rd in the world. “I’m not very happy about it.”
Japan was without Kei Nishikori — the highest-ranked Japanese on the ATP tour at No. 21 sidelined by a knee injury he aggravated at the Australian Open last month — but never came close to missing him on Friday.
Both Soeda and Ito had advanced to the second round at the Australian Open. The two never lost serve against Indonesia, with Soeda making quick work of Nugroho in 69 minutes.
Ito said the Japanese team feels it is good enough to qualify for the playoffs even without Nishikori.
“We’ve got two players in the top 100, so we feel like we can win regardless of who we send out there,” Ito said. “When Kei rejoins us, he will only make us a better.”
“He should be with us for the World Group and we should have a pretty interesting team then.”
Japan captain Minoru Ueda credited Ito for capturing the first match to set the tone.
“I think Ito winning the first match was huge,” Ueda said. “He was probably a little nervous being the first one out there but he worked through it. Ito really came through for us.”