PEREIRA, COLOMBIA – World No. 6 Kei Nishikori and Taro Daniel won their reverse singles as Japan came from behind to defeat Columbia 3-2 in their playoff and remain in the Davis Cup World Group on Sunday.
Colombia entered Sunday with a 2-1 lead after the veteran duo of Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian beat Yasutaka Uchiyama and 19-year-old Davis Cup debutant Yoshihito Nishioka in the doubles.
But that lead was wiped out when Nishikori defeated hometown hero Santiago Giraldo 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) in Sunday’s first singles match and Daniel beat veteran Alejandro Falla 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-2 for his first Davis Cup win.
Nishikori, who was coming off a shock first-round exit at the U.S. Open, played his part by winning both of his rubbers and all six of his sets.
“Today I felt much better than my first match,” said Nishikori, who had to make adjustments from hard courts to the red clay as well as the 1,490-meter altitude.
“I was moving really well. And I was playing more aggressive than in the first match. I am satisfied with the way I played and was able to keep a cool head.”
While Nishikori was expected to win, it was Daniel that gave the Japanese the breakthrough they needed.
“I told Daniel to play his tennis,” said Japan coach Minoru Ueda. “We can’t only rely on the ability of Nishikori alone. In the Davis Cup the win has to come from everyone. Daniel won his first (Davis Cup) match. It was a significant battle.”
Daniel, who trains on clay courts in Spain and speaks Spanish in addition to English and Japanese, was naturally delighted with the win.
“I think both my opponent and I were nervous in the first set and we were getting through the points before you knew it,” said Daniel.
“I played good tennis in the second set and the third set and I am glad the team has won.”
Britain, Belgium advance
It’s like 1904 all over again in the Davis Cup.
Britain and Belgium clinched 3-2 victories in the semifinals of tennis’ premier team competition on Sunday to set up a rematch of their final 111 years ago — the last time Belgium reached the title match. Britain won 5-0 that time and will be the favorite again in November courtesy of Andy Murray, who defeated Bernard Tomic of Australia in the first reverse singles to give Britain an unassailable lead.
Murray earned all three points for Britain in Glasgow, Scotland, after winning both his singles matches and teaming with brother Jamie to take a tough five-setter in Saturday’s doubles.
Steve Darcis put Belgium through by beating Federico Delbonis of Argentina in the fifth and decisive match in the other semifinal in Brussels.
Britain reached its first final in 37 years as Murray shrugged off a sore back to beat Tomic 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.
“I wasn’t really thinking about history or anything like that, I was just concentrating on the points,” Murray said. “I’m obviously delighted to get through. We knew it would be an incredibly difficult match to win, Australia have great depth and experience.”
Darcis had lost his opening singles match and the doubles on Saturday as Argentina built a 2-1 lead, but finally grabbed a point with a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) win in a deafening atmosphere at the Forest National.
Earlier, Belgium’s No. 1 player David Goffin defeated Diego Schwartzman to draw Belgium level.
“For our small country it’s pretty good. For me, it’s really big. I fight and I fight and this time I had the win,” Darcis said. “David Goffin played great, he gave me the chance to finish the job.”
The final will be played Nov. 27-29.
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