LONDON – Andy Murray partnered with his brother Jamie to guide Britain to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over Japan in a doubles match in the Davis Cup on Saturday, moving the titleholders into a 2-1 lead ahead of the reverse singles.
Andy Murray has now won his last 13 matches in the competition, 11 of them coming last year, when Britain won the title for the first time in 79 years.
Competing in his first event since becoming a father, the former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion decided to play doubles a day after beating Taro Daniel, while dropping just five games, on Friday to give Britain a 1-0 lead.
Murray finished off the win against Yoshihito Nishioka and Yasutaka Uchiyama with an ace, just like against Daniel.
“Hopefully I can play another good one tomorrow and seal the win,” said Murray, who is scheduled to face Kei Nishikori — Japan’s top player — in the first of the singles matches on Sunday. Murray leads their head-to-head series 5-1, but Nishikori won their only indoor match.
Britain chose to play Murray in the doubles, whereas Japan decided to rest Nishikori. The Murray brothers didn’t face a break point against a pairing that is ranked outside the world’s top 300 in doubles.
“We played a great match from start to finish,” said Jamie Murray, a doubles specialist. “We were very solid.”
Asked about his team’s chances of a comeback on the final day, Japan captain Minoru Ueda said, “I have a feeling that tomorrow, Kei and Andy’s match is everything. I feel that with the match indoors tomorrow, Kei has more of a chance.”
In other action, Novak Djokovic-led Serbia surprisingly fell behind 2-1 at home against Kazakhstan after he lost in doubles.
Italy and France became the first through to the quarterfinals after beating weakened visitors Switzerland and Canada respectively.
Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic fell to Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 before a full house in Belgrade. It was the second notable cup win for Golubev and Nedovyesov, who beat Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka in doubles in 2014.
For Serbia not to lose a third time at home in four ties, Djokovic must beat Mikhail Kukushkin in the first reverse singles on Sunday, then hope 23rd-ranked Viktor Troicki, who lost to Kukushkin on Friday, beats 200th-ranked Nedovyesov in the last rubber.
Djokovic won his only previous match against Kukushkin in three sets in Shanghai in 2014.
The visiting Czech Republic led Germany 2-1 in Hannover, Croatia led 2015 finalist Belgium 2-1 in Liege, Argentina led host Poland 2-1 in Gdansk, and the United States led Australia 2-1 in Melbourne after the day’s matches .
Italy took nearly eight hours to win the opening singles on Friday, so captain Corrado Barazzutti decided to give his best pair a chance to clinch the tie instead of giving a debut to Marco Cecchinato.
Simone Bolelli and Andreas Seppi, who won the Dubai title last week, beat tired singles players Marco Chiudinelli and Henri Laaksonen 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in less than two hours on the indoor clay court to help Italy reach its third quarterfinal in four years. With an unbeatable 3-0 lead, they await Argentina or Poland.
The Swiss were without Federer and Wawrinka.