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The inexperienced duo of Yasutaka Uchiyama and Yoshihito Nishioka dropped Saturday’s doubles rubber in four sets to leave Japan one loss from elimination in its Davis Cup World Group Playoff against Colombia.

Uchiyama and 19-year-old Davis Cup debutant Nishioka, who have never played together before, lost to the veteran duo of Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, as host Colombia took a 2-1 lead after the two sides split Friday’s singles.

“I’m not that good at doubles, but Uchiyama got the best out of me,” Nishioka said. “Playing at altitude makes service returns difficult, and our opponents were strong.”

Uchiyama said he and Nishioka jelled despite having little time to prepare as a team.

“We had been preparing together for about a week and a half, but there were no problems from that,” Uchiyama said.

“Our opponents served better than we imagined and we weren’t able to create chances with our returns.”

In Sunday’s reverse singles, world No. 6 Kei Nishikori will take on 59th-ranked Santiago Giraldo, who is playing on his home court.

Should Nishikori overcome Giraldo’s huge home-court advantage and even the tie at 2-2, Japan’s hopes of remaining in the World Group next year are scheduled to rest on the shoulders of 110th-ranked Taro Daniel, who is slated to face 129th-ranked Colombian Alejandro Falla.

Britain, Argentina close in

Paris AFP-JIJI

Andy and Jamie Murray edged Britain closer to a first Davis Cup final in 37 years on Saturday while Argentina was within sight of its fourth final spot since 2006.

The Murray brothers thrilled their home Glasgow crowd by defeating Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4 in a grueling four-hour rubber.

Victory gave the home side a 2-1 lead and it meant Andy Murray could clinch the tie for Britain in Sunday’s first reverse singles as it attempts to win the competition for the first time since 1936.

The 28-year-old will secure his country a final showdown against either Belgium or Argentina in November if he defeats scheduled opponent Bernard Tomic.

If he loses, British world No. 300 Dan Evans was due to face teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis in what would be the decisive second reverse singles.

“It was an incredible match and we had to come back from the disappointment of losing the fourth set,” two-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray said.

“We stuck together like brothers should and managed to come up with enough good returns. It was as emotionally draining as much as it was physically.”

Australia, a 28-time winner of the tournament, had been looking to reach its first final since 2003.

“Davis Cup doubles over five sets can sometimes only rely on one or two points,” said Hewitt, who is featuring in his final Davis Cup campaign.

“Doubles is always crucial but there is still two matches to go and we have to come up with the best plan to win those matches and give ourselves an opportunity to go through to the final.”

Argentina is also dreaming of a return to the Davis Cup final after finishing as runnerup in 1981, 2006, 2008 and 2011.

Carlos Berlocq and Leonardo Mayer edged Steve Darcis and Ruben Bemelmans 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), 5-7, 7-6 (7-5) to take the South Americans into a 2-1 lead over Belgium.

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