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Canada moves out to 2-1 lead on Japan

Kyodo

Japan fell 2-1 behind in its Davis Cup World Group first-round tie against Canada on Saturday after Go Soeda and Yasutaka Uchiyama tasted a five-set defeat in the doubles.

Soeda and Uchiyama put up a fight but were beaten 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 by Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil, the world No. 5- and No. 15-ranked doubles players.

“We had good spells in the match and never felt the gap between us and the Canadian pair was as big as the rankings suggest,” said Uchiyama.

Soeda added, “I was just thinking of how we could find a way to win. We showed what we are made of but a defeat is a defeat. The accuracy on our opponents’ returns was fantastic.”

World No. 4 Kei Nishikori defeated Pospisil in straight sets to pull Japan level at 1-1 in Friday’s singles after Canada’s top player — No. 6-ranked Milos Raonic — had beaten Tatsuma Ito.

Nishikori will be looking to make it all square again when the 2014 U.S. Open finalist takes on Raonic in the reverse singles on Sunday. The final match of the tie features Pospisil against Ito.

Nishikori beat Raonic en route to the U.S. Open final last year and also prevailed in the final of the 2014 Japan Open. He holds a 4-2 record in their head-to-heads, but Raonic won their last meeting in Brisbane in January.

Serbia, France advance

REUTERS

Novak Djokovic spurred Serbia to a 3-0 win over neighbors Croatia in the first round of the Davis Cup on Saturday and it will be joined in the quarterfinals by an equally rampant France.

Britain’s progress was put on hold after it lost an enthralling doubles to the United States on Saturday.

Defending champion Switzerland, missing Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, fell behind 2-1 at Belgium while the Czech Republic hauled itself back against Australia.

World No. 1 Djokovic, who was a late replacement for Viktor Troicki, teamed up with Nenad Zimonjic to blow away Marin Draganja and Franko Skugor 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 in Serbia’s central city of Kraljevo.

The home fans, who roared on the Serbs but also gave the Croatians a warm reception throughout the tie, were given a scare in the second set when Djokovic received medical treatment for a cut on his right hand.

But they were relieved to see him carry on and produce one of his best doubles performances as 38-year-old Zimonjic rolled back the years.

“Novak played unbelievably well today and we are delighted to have sealed a quarterfinal spot,” Serbia coach Bogdan Obradovic said.

Djokovic added: “We decided that I should come in for Viktor because that was the best combination in this moment.

“Being 2-0 up after the opening day was a massive confidence boost and we did everything right today, from the first to the last point.”

Having won both its singles against the Americans after Andy Murray beat Donald Young and James Ward staged a comeback against John Isner on Friday, Britain nearly conjured another impressive fightback in the doubles.

Murray’s brother Jamie and Dominic Inglot found themselves two sets down against the world’s top-ranked pairing of Bob and Mike Bryan but, cheered on by a boisterous crowd in Glasgow, the British duo fought back.

As American captain Jim Courier watched on anxiously from the sidelines, the Bryan twins eventually stretched the tie into a third day with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (8-10), 9-7 victory.